Press Releases

Kuster, Tipton Lead Bipartisan Letter Calling on Congressional Leadership to Temporarily Waive Federal Permit Fees for Ski Areas

Concord, N.H., May 7, 2020

Concord, NH - Yesterday, Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Scott Tipton (CO-03) led a bipartisan letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, calling on Congress to consider temporarily waiving the federal permitting fees for ski areas through June 2021. Our nation’s ski areas are crucial to the economies of many rural communities across our nation. By waiving federal permit fees through June of next year, Congress can help ski areas maintain essential staff throughout this pandemic in preparation for summer months and the next winter sports season. 

“Today, there are 122 ski areas operating on USFS lands across 14 states,” wrote the Members. “They host approximately 33 million visitors annually, comprising 60 percent of total ski area visitation in the United States. For many rural mountain communities, ski areas are the largest employer and a main driver of local economic activity. Ski areas nationwide support over 964,000 jobs and drive seasonal demand for hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and small businesses in mountain communities.”

“As of mid-March, ski areas across the country closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus,” the Members continued. “These closures mean ski areas are not operating during their peak season that typically represents twenty-five percent of annual revenue. Ski areas’ summer operations, which represent on average eleven percent of annual revenue for ski areas, continue to be negatively impacted by this crisis. As this crisis continues, ski areas are facing a serious liquidity challenge and allowing ski areas to retain funds that would have otherwise been paid to the Treasury will help ski areas retain employees.” 

“Waiving federal permitting fees for ski areas that operate on U.S. Forest Service lands is one of the most meaningful ways that Congress can help an industry that faces a lot of uncertainty moving into the summer and next winter’s operating seasons,” said Jessyca Keeler, President of Ski New Hampshire. “Thank you to Representatives Kuster and Tipton for recognizing how this effort can help ski areas across the country – which often operate in remote, rural regions – to continue to operate and keep employees on staff.”

“Ski areas suffered a $2B loss with abrupt and early closures this spring,” said Kelly Pawlak, President of the National Ski Areas Association. “Fee waivers will help ski areas and the rural economies that depend on them with recovery and needed resilience in facing the challenges ahead.”

In addition to Reps. Kuster and Tipton, the letter was signed by Representatives Chris Pappas (NH-01), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Chris Stewart (UT-02), Rob Bishop (UT-01), Peter Welch (VT-ALL), Tom McClintock (CA-04), and John Curtis (UT-03). 

The full text of the letter is available here and below: 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                               The Honorable Kevin McCarthy

Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives           Minority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives

H-232, U.S. Capitol                                                H-204, U.S. Capitol

Washington D.C. 20500                                       Washington D.C. 20500

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy:

As you consider legislative action to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we urge you to provide temporary relief from federal permitting fees for ski areas. Rural mountain communities across the country rely on ski areas as major employers and drivers of economic activity and have been negatively impacted by the early closures of ski areas done in accordance with state stay-at-home policies.

We ask that you consider waiving ski area permit rental charges and permit fees from March 13, 2020 through June 1, 2021. As ski areas continue to work with the United States Forest Service (USFS) to respond to this crisis, Congress should consider waiving these fees authorized in federal statue. Ski areas are a critical part of this country’s rural economy and Congress must protect them during this crisis.

Today, there are 122 ski areas operating on USFS lands across 14 states. They host approximately 33 million visitors annually, comprising 60 percent of total ski area visitation in the United States. For many rural mountain communities, ski areas are the largest employer and a main driver of local economic activity. Ski areas nationwide support over 964,000 jobs and drive seasonal demand for hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and small businesses in mountain communities.

As of mid-March, ski areas across the country closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. These closures mean ski areas are not operating during their peak season that typically represents twenty-five percent of annual revenue. Ski areas’ summer operations, which represent on average eleven percent of annual revenue for ski areas, continue to be negatively impacted by this crisis. As this crisis continues, ski areas are facing a serious liquidity challenge and allowing ski areas to retain funds that would have otherwise been paid to the Treasury will help ski areas retain employees.

By waiving federal permitting fees through June 2021, Congress can help facilitate the recovery of ski areas during this critical time and help their operations maintain critical staff in preparation for summer months and the next winter sports season.

We very much appreciate your consideration. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our offices if you have any questions.

###