With ski areas fees as focus, SHRED Act clears committee and heads for Senate

Effort to see more ski area fees go toward national forest budgets has received much support in Colorado

U.s. Sen. Michael Bennet visits with Beth Howard, the chief operating officer for Vail Mountain, in August at the base of the ski resort. Howard said after weathering the pandemic, the company plans to turn its focus to enhancing the guest experience at its ski areas, and Bennet’s SHRED Act could be helpful to that end.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

The SHRED Act stomped its landing out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources late last week.

Short for Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development, the SHRED Act would enable national forests to retain a portion of the annual fees paid into the U.S. Treasury by ski areas operating within their boundaries.

The bill is being championed by U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and John Barrasso of Wyoming.

“I’m pleased that our SHRED Act to support mountain communities in Colorado and across the West passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today,” Bennet said Thursday in a statement. “Our bipartisan bill would keep ski fees local to help our National Forests keep up with outdoor recreation demands. I look forward to working with Sen. Barrasso and my colleagues to get this critical legislation over the finish line.”

Barrasso is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“By creating a dedicated account for the Forest Service fees our ski resorts pay, they’ll be able to use these funds to improve facilities, protect the forests and support the economy,” Barrasso said.

A spokesperson in Bennet’s office said after Thursday’s passage out of the committee, Bennet, Barrasso and the U.S. Senate’s leadership will now try to get the bill passed.

After that, the SHRED Act would move to the House, where the bill has found support from Joe Neguse, who represents Eagle County in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Colorado’s 2nd District is home to some of the best skiing in the country, and the growing industry boosts our local mountain economies and the tourism our communities rely on to thrive,” said Neguse, who serves as chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. “Keeping ski fees local is common-sense and will bring more federal resources to the National Forests in Colorado, equipping our local ski industry by investing in wildfire planning, outdoor permitting and public land maintenance. This bill delivers for our Colorado communities, our state’s economy and the treasured public lands we’re known for and I’m thrilled to see it moving in the Senate.”

The SHRED Act’s passage out of committee came as welcome news in Eagle County.

“The amount of revenue from ski and winter activities on national forests is also an indication of the impacts of that use and the need for investment to serve that use,” said Matt Scherr, the chair of the Eagle Board of County Commissioners. “The SHRED Act will finally allow the Forest Service to more adequately invest in our natural resources that Eagle County residents and visitors alike clearly value so much.”