SUMMIT COUNTY — After a big dip last season, skier visits rebounded strongly in the 2012-2013 season, climbing up to 56. million with the season still going strong at areas like Mammoth Mountain and Arapahoe Basin.
For the country as a whole, skier visits climbed 11 percent from last season. Skier visits in the Pacific Southwest and Northeast regions climbed more than 20 percent from last winter, not surprising, since they were the areas hit hardest by sparse snowfall and an early meltdown last year.
Resorts in all regions started slow but skier visits gained momentum through the holidays and spring break. Overall, 78 percent of reporting ski areas posted increases in visits. The median resort experienced a 10.6 percent gain in visits, according to a release from the National Ski Areas Association. Continue reading “Outdoors: Skier visits rebound nationally”→
Forest Service looking to ensure long-term viability of ski areas
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — In comments submitted to the U.S. Forest Service, the National Ski Areas Association is suggesting a fresh start in developing a policy to determine ownership and future use of water that originates on national forest lands.
“Our new approach assumes that all previous water clauses are no longer in effect, null and void, and unenforceable. It would result in a consistent water policy across the board going forward,” said NSAA policy director Geraldine Link.
The ski industry comments came as the Forest Service held a series of hearings around the West in the early stages of developing a new water rights clause that eventually will become part of agency permits for businesses operating on public lands.
The ski industry and the Forest Service have been at odds over water rights for years, and most recently faced each other in federal court over a 2011 version of the permit language. The court said that the Forest Service failed to follow required procedures in rewriting the clause, and also noted that the agency has adopted a series of clauses that aren’t being applied consistently. Continue reading “Ski industry offers some guarantees on water rights issue”→
Federal court ruling sends agency back to the drawing board
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — After being rebuffed in federal court, the U.S. Forest Service will start anew at developing new water-rights language for ski area permits. The agency plans to start taking public input this spring on the new directive, which would clarify ownership of water rights on national forest lands.
The Forest Service most recently issued a new water rights directive in Dec. 2012, aiming to establish that certain water rights have to remain linked with the ski areas where the water is used to ensure the long-term sustainability of the resorts.
The ski industry interpreted at least parts of the new directive as a direct grab of water rights that are properly administered under state water law. A year-long lawsuit ended in Dec. 2012 with a court telling the Forest Service it must use a public process to develop a new directive.
“The agency’s announcement and the agency’s recent policy that was struck down in federal court both assume that water should run with the land. This approach reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of water law in the West,” said Geraldine Link, public policy director for the National Ski Areas Association.
Amicus brief reinforces NSAA complaint against federal agency
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —The ski industry has some new allies in its legal challenge to a new Forest Service ski area permit requirement affecting water rights.
The Colorado River Water Conservation District, the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, the Ute Water Conservancy District, the Eagle Park Reservoir Company and the Clinton Ditch and Reservoir Company have joined in the lawsuit with an amicus brief that was accepted by the U.S. District Court of Colorado a few days ago, according the Colorado River District attorney Peter Fleming.
Ski areas claim takings; agency says it’s protecting a public resource
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service has responded to the ski industry’s lawsuit over water rights, claiming it has every legal right to attach certain requirements to ski area permits ensuring that the water originating in streams on public lands remain dedicated to continued ski area obligations.
In the response, the Forest Service said:
“The 2012 ski area water rights clause speaks for itself and is the best evidence of its contents. Defendants deny any allegations contrary to the plain language and meaning of the 2012 ski area water rights clause. Defendants deny any violation of the Constitution, federal law or regulation.”
At issue is language in the permits under which most Colorado ski areas operate on public land. The two sides have been engaged in a long-running tussle over who owns the water originating on national forest lands.
NSAA claims illegal takings; agency says it wants to ensure long-term viability of ski area operations
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The veneer of partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the ski industry cracked this week under the weight of a serious disagreement over water rights.
The National Ski Areas Association Monday filed a lawsuit try and block the agency from changing permit language relating to the ownership of water rights associated with the development and operation of ski areas under federal permit.