Forest Service to promote year-round recreation on ski areas |

Forest Service to promote year-round recreation on ski areas

Tribune staff report

The U.S. Forest Service has finalized policies that expand year-round recreation opportunities for guests of ski resorts on national forests.

The policies create additional opportunities for ski resorts to promote year-round, natural resource-based recreation activities that will "create additional jobs for communities with ski areas on the national forests," according to a press release from the United States Department of Agriculture.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said the changes that stem from the directives will allow more chances to enjoy federal lands.

"This is more than just a policy change," he said in a statement. "This opens up new opportunities to bring people onto national forests to enjoy the great outdoors, become more physically active and recreate in new ways."

Vail Resorts — which owns Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Heavenly Mountain Resort and Northstar California in Lake Tahoe — applauded the finalization of the guidelines Tuesday.

Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, commented on the change.

Recommended Stories For You

"We appreciate that the U.S. Forest Service created a broad, forward-thinking policy that meets the intent of Congress and allows us to make our national forests accessible and engaging to people of all ages and abilities not just in winter, but all year long," Katz said in a statement.

The policies will take effect immediately. U.S. Forest Service administrators will figure out which summer recreation activities will be allowed on ski areas.

The federal agency said early estimates indicate a significant increase in the number of summer visits on national forests as a result of the change, as well as "an additional 600 full- or part-time jobs and almost $40 million infused in local mountain communities."