Summer Supplement - 4
U.S. Forest Service Opens Public Lands
for Recreational Usage
Boon to Year Around Activities at Ski Resorts!
ownhill skiing, as a recreational
sport, had its roots in Europe
during the last half of the nineteenth century. Alpine villages in the Alps held
a strong draw during the warmer months, but
their hamlets were mostly deserted during the
winter. For the village residents, this presented
an economic challenge. To encourage their
summer guests to return in winter, many were
offered free lodging if they would brave the
cold and return when the snows blanketed the
slopes. That was a turning point as the wellto-do returned, told their peers and the recreationasl ski industry got its start - in Europe.
Wealthy North Americans were introduced to the sport by their European counterparts, and brought the concept back home.
However, it wasn't until the early years of the
Twentieth Century that the concept really took
hold . . . mostly in the New England states at
first, but the word was spreading quickly. Interest to develop skiing areas was widespread.
This was before any uphill transit was invented, proper trail clearing performed and decent equipment designed or manufactured.
Building a ski area required a lot of land for its
facilities and especially for its trails. Thus, the
question remained as to where these new resorts could and should be developed; and how
they would be regulated and controlled.
The former question would be solved by
using select public lands; ie. United States National or State Forests located in the mountainous or hilly regions of the country. The latter
solution would be more involved. Rules and
regulations must be determined, and would
have had to be written by an actual Act of
On March 4, 1915, prior to the opening of
America's original ski resort - Howelsen Hill
Ski Area in Colorado, which opened several
months later - Bill 16 U.S.A. 497 was enacted
to regulate public lands and open it up for
planned and controlled public usage. Currently, there are more than 120 ski areas on
about 180,000 acres of public land controlled
by the U.S. Forest Service. Standards had to be
defined and enforced.
Although adventure seekers may have
walked up a slope somewhere, there were no
actual ski resorts in early 1915. With the sub4
sequent popularity and growth of the ski resort
industry - especially in the mid 1900s, 16 U.S.A
497 became outdated. It had to be amended.
Decades later, the new version was called The
National Forest Ski Area Act of 1986 (16 U.S.A.
497b). The original 1915 bill was modified updated to include the growth of ski areas.
This law still governed activities. Briefly, it
states that "a ski area is to encourage outdoor
recreation and enjoyment of nature, and harmonize
with the natural environment". However, it lim-
ited the resorts to Nordic and Alpine skiing.
With the passaage of more time, 16
U.S.A. 497b also became obsolete. Therefore
The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 was enacted. Known as Public Law 112-46-Nov. 7, 2011, the law further
altered and clarified several sections. Most
notably, the Nordic and Alpine verbiage was
striked. The new copy reads "skiing and other
snow sports and recreational uses authorized by
this Act." It also authorizes "a ski area permit-
The Lake Tahoe Area is one of the nation's most visited regions on federal land. The Tahoe
National Forest surrounding the beautiful lake is a mecca for bikers and hikers, and others.
With views like this, the trail system is noted to be one of the best mountain biking regions in
the country. There are miles and miles of maintained singletrack and rugged backcountry
trails surrounding the lake. Most trail systems do change year after year, with existing trails
revamped and new trails designed and developed. The Tahoe Rim Trail and the Tahoe Flume
Trail (pictured) are favorites because of the exquisite views and diverse trails. The Northstar
Bike Park has also been a favorite among mountain bikers. It is a been a multiple winner in the
MTBparks.com Rider's Choice Best Bike Parks Awards for the Southwest Region numerous
times by mtbparks photo / RenoTahoeUSA
2018 Far West Skier's Guide - Summer Supplement