16 U.S.C. § 497b - U.S. Code - Unannotated Title 16. Conservation § 497b. Ski area permits

(a) Law applicable to permits

The provisions of the Act of March 4, 1915 ( 16 U.S.C.A. § 497 ) notwithstanding, the term and acreage of permits for the operation of ski areas and associated facilities on National Forest System lands shall on and after October 22, 1986, be governed by this section and other applicable law.

(b) Authority

The Secretary of Agriculture (hereinafter referred to as “the Secretary”) is authorized to issue permits (hereinafter referred to as “ski area permits”) for the use and occupancy of suitable lands within the National Forest System for skiing and other snow sports and recreational uses authorized by this section.  A ski area permit--

(1)  may be issued for a term not to exceed 40 years;

(2)  shall ordinarily be issued for a term of 40 years (unless the Secretary determines that the facilities or operations are of a scale or nature as are not likely to require long-term financing or operation), or that there are public policy reasons specific to a particular permit for a shorter term;

(3)  shall encompass such acreage as the Secretary determines sufficient and appropriate to accommodate the permittee's needs for ski operations and appropriate ancillary facilities;

(4)  may be renewed at the discretion of the Secretary;

(5)  may be cancelled by the Secretary in whole or in part for any violation of the permit terms or conditions, for nonpayment of permit fees, or upon the determination by the Secretary in his planning for the uses of the national forests that the permitted area is needed for higher public purposes;

(6)  may be modified from time to time by the Secretary to accommodate changes in plans or operations in accordance with the provisions of applicable law;

(7)  shall be subject to such reasonable terms and conditions as the Secretary deems appropriate;  and

(8)  shall be subject to a permit fee based on fair market value in accordance with applicable law.

(c) Other recreational uses

(1) Authority of Secretary

Subject to the terms of a ski area permit issued pursuant to subsection (b), the Secretary may authorize a ski area permittee to provide such other seasonal or year-round natural resource-based recreational activities and associated facilities (in addition to skiing and other snow-sports) on National Forest System land subject to a ski area permit as the Secretary determines to be appropriate.

(2) Requirements

Each activity and facility authorized by the Secretary under paragraph (1) shall--

(A)  encourage outdoor recreation and enjoyment of nature;

(B)  to the extent practicable--

(i)  harmonize with the natural environment of the National Forest System land on which the activity or facility is located;  and

(ii)  be located within the developed portions of the ski area;

(C)  be subject to such terms and conditions as the Secretary determines to be appropriate;  and

(D)  be authorized in accordance with--

(i)  the applicable land and resource management plan;  and

(ii)  applicable laws (including regulations).

(3) Inclusions

Activities and facilities that may, in appropriate circumstances, be authorized under paragraph (1) include--

(A)  zip lines;

(B)  mountain bike terrain parks and trails;

(C)  frisbee golf courses;  and

(D)  ropes courses.

(4) Exclusions

Activities and facilities that are prohibited under paragraph (1) include--

(A)  tennis courts;

(B)  water slides and water parks;

(C)  swimming pools;

(D)  golf courses;  and

(E)  amusement parks.

(5) Limitation

The Secretary may not authorize any activity or facility under paragraph (1) if the Secretary determines that the authorization of the activity or facility would result in the primary recreational purpose of the ski area permit to be a purpose other than skiing and other snow-sports.

(6) Boundary determination

In determining the acreage encompassed by a ski area permit under subsection (b)(3), the Secretary shall not consider the acreage necessary for activities and facilities authorized under paragraph (1).

(7) Effect on existing authorized activities and facilities

Nothing in this subsection affects any activity or facility authorized by a ski area permit in effect on November 7, 2011, during the term of the permit.

(d) Regulations

Not later than 2 years after November 7, 2011, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations to implement this section.

(e) Construction with Secretary's duties under other laws

Nothing in this section shall be deemed to amend, modify or otherwise affect the Secretary's duties under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 ( 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. ) and the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 ( 16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq. ) including his duties to involve the public in his decisionmaking and planning for the national forests.


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