Ski Area Development–
About Development

an editorial by Catherine Ohl, Public Affairs Liasion
(also appeared as guest editoral in US National Ski Club Newsletter) 

As skiers and snowboarders, we are generally in favor of Ski Area Development. Sometimes I wonder if I am like all the other special interest groups that only care about their own passion rather than what's best for the whole. I've done a whole lot of soul searching and a fair amount of research and come to the conclusion that responsible Ski Area development benefits everyone. Consider the following facts.

 * One out of every 12 acres (8%) in the United States is public land.
 * At last count, 135 Ski Areas in the US were under permit on public land.
 * US Ski Areas occupy less than 1% of all the public land's 191 million acres.
 * More than 30 million skier/snowboarder days (57%) occur on public land.
 * Ski Areas on public land collectively pay more than $20 million dollars in fees to lease the land.
 * Ski Areas generate more revenue per acre than any other recreational provider. By the year 2000, it is projected that skiing will represent 75% of the jobs and money generated on public land. 
 * In 1981, Deer Valley was the last new major Ski Area to open in the US on public land. 
In 2002, Moonlight Basin, MT was the first destination ski resort to open in the US in more than 20 years. This resort is on private land.
December 2004 saw the opening of Tamarack, ID.

The US Forest Service (USFS) overseas the National Forest, the largest percentage of our public land. In order to manage the forest, USFS develops a Land and Resource Management Plan (the Plan) which outlines the direction of a National Forest with a corresponding Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). There is some key legislation that is typically "appealed" by special interest groups to throw a "Paper Monkeywrench" into any development -- the Wilderness Act of 1964, the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The appeal process continues to slow, reduce and stop countless USFS projects. If we don't become proactive and make our voices heard, we will continue to lose. With private land for outdoor recreation in decline, the challenge for USFS is to integrate the protection of watersheds, plants and wildlife with the people's rising need for hiking, biking, cross-country ski trails, lift connected resorts, campsites and scenic vistas. Ski Area development needs be an integral part of the Plan.

Ski With Pride • Watch All Sides • Let It Ride
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