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Revamping the Ski Area Permit Act

Vail Daily Editorial Board

Congressman Mark Udall is on the right track with his proposed bill to revamp the 1986 National Ski Area Permit Act. After all, the Act was passed when snowboarding was barely a twinkle in anyone’s eye, and the more robust, two-season resort business had yet to be realized. Clarifying and brushing up the Act to reflect the reality of the modern resort industry could go a long way toward both helping resorts and ski towns diversify their economic base while protecting the national forest from loose interpretations and inappropriate activities.

After all, we doubt many of us who love the forest will want to see Space Mountain recreated on Vail Mountain. We’ve learned to live with what is our inherent hypocrisy – our worship of the mountains and our marring of them with lifts and trails – and it’s important that we don’t go too far over the line.

So it’s little wonder that Udall’s proposed bill has already been criticized for not being clear enough about what would be allowed. Proposed language such as “other such mountain resort recreational activities” and “associated facilities” is enough to give anyone pause. Is an “associated facility” a yurt or a skyscraper? It’s hard to say from this proposed language. It’s also true that the desires of stockholders and those who live in places like



Vail will not always jibe. The Act’s job, though, is to look out for the forest while providing for reasonable use of the land.

Udall no doubt knows the bill will be chewed over, changed and tweaked in committee. We’d encourage the congressman to listen to his resort-town constituents as the language of the Act goes under the knife. We would also point out that we already have a clear example of the extent to which different resort areas will tolerate activities that fall beyond snowsports: Breckenridge gets along very well with its Alpine Slide; Beaver Creek rejected it.

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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.



One size does not fit all, and the Ski Permit Act should reflect that by requiring maximum input from the communities affected.


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