Udall revives bill that would battle the beetle with bikes and bands

Sen. Mark Udall on Monday revived a bill he first floated in the U.S. House last summer. Some critics say the bill could open up a recreational Pandora’s box at the nation’s ski areas.

The Senate bill would revise a 23-year-old law that governs how the U.S. Forest Service issues permits for ski areas, most of which operate on federally owned public land. That law currently limits ski area permits to alpine and Nordic skiing and doesn’t mention activities like snowboarding and alpine slides that already occur at many resorts.

Some environmentalists and resort homeowners last summer voiced concerns that roller-coasters and water parks would be the next logical step in the Disney-ification of the nation’s forests. But Udall argued the law needs to be clarified and that appropriate uses such as concerts and biking need to be included to boost the year-round economies of mountain towns struggling in the current economy.

Udall also acknowledged, in a press release, that the bill could help mitigate the financial impacts the ongoing mountain pine beetle epidemic may have on tourism-based economies in resort towns.

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