Posts Tagged With: government

It May Be Over, But the Federal Government Shutdown Could Affect You

Originally posted on NRPA’s Open Space blog on October 16, 2013.

deal may be struck and the shutdown may nearly be over (or at least temporarily held off until early 2014), but after the federal government shut down more than two weeks ago, one of the loudest frustrations from the public was the closing of our national parks. The average American might not feel the immediate sting of many government offices closing down, but with an October average of 715,000 visitors per day to the 401 National Park Service (NPS) sites, it’s no surprise that the loss of access to these public lands caused a major uproar. According to the Department of the Interior’s contingency plan published on September 26, 21,379 of the current 24,645 NPS employees were expected to be furloughed in the event of a shutdown.

Fortunately for park professionals like you as well as the public, state and local parks aren’t under the financial umbrella of the federal shutdown. However, this event still has the potential to affect you, as past federal shutdowns have caused some state agencies to step in to keep services coming.  In fact, just this week a few states stepped in to temporarily open some of the national parks, footing the bill themselves, as detailed in this Associated Press news story.  In addition, past shutdowns on the state and local levels have forced furloughs of thousands of park employees as well.

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Congress passes bill to support year-round outdoor recreation

West Virginia's Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort offers downhill mountain biking, geocaching, sport shooting, fly fishing, lift rides and more during the summer.

In the wake of an ugly year of partisan politics, there’s at least one thing both sides of the aisle can agree on — the benefits of year-round outdoor recreation. The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 (H.R. 765, S. 382), which amends the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986, has just passed in both the House of Representatives (394-0) as well as the Senate (unanimous consent), and given President Obama’s declared support of the bill, he’s expected to sign it into law in the next few weeks.

Under the 1986 legislation, the 121 ski areas in the country that operate on public lands (located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming) were only authorized to support nordic and alpine skiing. So technically, snowboarding on ski area lands leased by the federal government was illegal. And there were no provisions for ski areas to provide for non-winter sports and activities, though many facilities are perfectly suited to offer a wide range of year-round opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The new bill fills in the gaps and opens the umbrella for things like mountain bike terrain parks and trail systems, frisbee golf courses, zip lines and ropes courses, but don’t worry — it specifically excludes things like tennis courts, golf courses and amusement rides. After all, the first specification listed in the bill is that each federally authorized activity and facility shall, as its primary purpose, “encourage outdoor recreation and enjoyment of nature.”

So what does this mean for the outdoor community? More opportunities for both business and adventure. Continue reading

Categories: Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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