Curtis unveils bipartisan bill to keep ski area permit fees local

Currently, fees related to the permitting of ski areas on U.S. Forest Service land go to the U.S. Treasury Department, where they are not dedicated for any specific purpose, a process that U.S. Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) wants to change.

Toward that goal, the congressman on June 4 cosponsored the bipartisan Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act, H.R. 3686, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), to direct a portion of the fees to the National Forest System, where they would be used for local infrastructure improvements, avalanche forecasting and safety, and improved visitor services, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Curtis’ office.

“The SHRED Act would allow the Forest Service to retain ski area permit fees at the forest that they originate in to be used for increased maintenance and improvements on those lands,” said Rep. Curtis. “I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to quickly advance this important bill through Congress.”

For instance, to keep ski fees local, H.R. 3686 would establish a Ski Area Fee Retention Account to retain a portion of the fees that ski areas pay to the Forest Service. For National Forests that receive less than $15 million in ski fees annually, 75 percent of the fees would be retained. For forests that receive more than $15 million in ski fees annually, 60 percent of the ski fees would be retained. The retained funds would be available for authorized uses at the local National Forest, according to the summary. 

The bill also would direct money to improve the ski area permitting process, helping ski areas facilitate investment in rural mountain communities, the summary says. 

The measure has garnered support from Ski New Hampshire, the National Ski Areas Association, the America Outdoors Association, and Snowsports Industries America.

Rep. Curtis called H.R. 3686 “important legislation” that would not only support recreation “but will ensure the forests are healthy and maintained for future generations.”

U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and John Barrasso (R-WY) on June 8 introduced the companion bill, S. 1964, in their chamber.