Making Moguls & Money
Ski Cooper Sets Opening Date
Leadville’s locally ascribed ski mountain, Ski Cooper has secured its (tentative) opening day, and Mother Nature has arrived with some wintery goodness to make sure it happens. Wednesday, Dec. 8 will welcome back skiers and boards as the 21/22 Cooper Ski season kicks off, bringing an experience that only 100% natural snow can offer.
“Looking good,” posted Cooper’s Marketing Director Dana Johnson as today’s snowstorm laid down a solid base for a mountain that needs to be ready-to-go in exactly 4 weeks from today (11.10.2021). Of course, residents can learn the latest news at Ski Cooper’s Annual Community Meeting, which will be held this Saturday, Nov. 13 beginning at 1 p.m. Back to an in-person presentation, this year the community gathering will be held in the lodge giving season pass holders and residents an opportunity to find out about ongoing projects and what’s new. In addition, Cooper’s Board of Directors, management, and staff will be available for questions or comments.
This year, one of the ski industry’s most prevalent news feed issues has been the SHRED Act (see story below), a legislative measure being carried in part by Lake County’s Washington representative Senator Michael Bennet. If passed, the measure would change the way in which skier and other use fees paid to the USFS are distributed. There’s a significant amount of money involved and it could be a real game-changer. Check out the story below and then join the conversation on any one of LT’s social media platforms.
Of course, after this Saturday’s business meeting, there will be plenty of fun to be had with free food and some live music. It’s a great time to catch up with neighbors and friends all while gearing up for the 2021-22 ski & board season. Here’ the entertainment schedule and line-up for this Saturday, Nov. 13 out at Ski Cooper.
From 2 -5 p.m. Cooper’s Food & Beverage crew will be serving up delicious pulled pork sandwiches, along with some homemade chili. For those old enough, craft beer will be available to wash it all down and get you ready for the dance floor!
Cooper’s Saturday Musical Highlights
- 2 – 3 p.m. – Rory Campbell
- 3 – 4 p.m. – George Finnell
- 4 – 5 p.m. – Patrick Torsell
Ski Cooper is Colorado’s fifth-oldest ski area located in the heart of Colorado’s majestic Rocky Mountains with incredible views of some of Colorado’s highest peaks, including Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert. Its origin goes back to World War II when the U.S. Army developed the area and nearby Camp Hale as a training site for the ski troopers of the famed 10th Mountain Division. Today, Ski Cooper is operated and maintained under the authority of a USDA Forest Service Special Use Permit with oversight by the Lake County Board of Commissioners.
Snow Moves Into Leadville Today on November, 10, 2021
Fees from Skis to Stay with Local Trees?
There’s nothing like a good, old acronym to get your point across. Especially if you can sync it up with some fresh snow.
And so it goes for Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet as he announced additional support of the SHRED Act yesterday in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, his home state would see another significant snowstorm pass through the high country, leaving behind more than a dusting for the $55 billion Colorado ski industry. Known more formally as the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act, Senator Bennet’s bipartisan legislation would invest in outdoor recreation in mountain communities by enabling National Forests to retain a portion of the annual fees paid by ski areas operating within their boundaries.
“The partnership between ski areas, the Forest Service, and mountain communities is a vital component of Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry, creating jobs and boosting local economies,” said Bennet. “But as National Forests struggle with inadequate funding to meet demands, we need to pass the SHRED Act to keep ski fees local and help our National Forests keep up with the surge in visitation and outdoor recreation. I’m grateful to have the Outdoor Industry Association and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s support as we work to get this done for mountain communities.”
While neither Lake County officials nor Ski Cooper management has commented publicly on the legislation, however, it would likely mean a shift in the manner in which Leadville’s local ski hill’s fees are regulated as well. At present, ski area fees go directly into the U.S. Treasury where Congress decides allocation, eventually bringing funds down the pipeline to the Rocky Mountain Regional Office where funds are divided among the national forests within its jurisdiction.
It’s a lot of money, but no one knows exactly how much as the amount of information the U.S. Forest Service will share about ski areas’ use of public lands has diminished in recent years. In the past, the agency publicly disclosed permit fees paid by individual ski areas. Now, the Forest Service will only share aggregated permit fee information for the ski areas. No individual permit fees are being shared on a forest, state, region or national level even after being challenged through a Freedom of Information Act request from Vail Resorts four years ago (Dec.’17) .
No doubt the heavy hitters in neighboring Eagle and Summit counties have some idea about how much money is involved. It’s one of the reasons dominant players in the Colorado outdoors industry are publicly supporting Sen. Bennet’s measure. And today, along with a fresh round of snow for Colorado’s ski resorts came some solid base support.
“The $55 billion skiing industry is an important part of the American outdoor recreation economy, supporting more than half a million jobs across the country,” said Outdoor Industry Association executive director Lise Aangeenbrug. “These ski areas – and the local economies they support – rely on well-maintained and properly funded National Forests. That is why this commonsense, bipartisan proposal is so important. It would ensure a majority of the ski fees collected by the National Forests remain in the forest that collected them, providing local officials flexibility to invest in conservation and outdoor recreation projects and supporting conservation efforts to ensure ski areas and other parts of the forest remain accessible for years to come. We commend Senators Bennet and Barrasso for their leadership and look forward to working with them to see it passed into law.”
One of those is Lake County’s Senator Bennet who along with Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), introduced the SHRED Act in June. In fact, it was earlier this year when Bennet released USFS data that gave a slight indication of what the SHRED Act, if passed, would provide annually for National Forests in Colorado to improve the ski program, permitting, and recreation management: around $17 million.
The legislation is certainly a money and power play back on capitol hill, but one worth keeping an eye on in Leadville Today. Will it encounter the agony of defeat or make it through the proverbial finish gates of victory? Stay tuned as the Act SHREDs its way through the Congressional moguls.
New Signs Enhance Bicyclist Safety
Colorado’s “Three-Foot” law was enacted way back in May 2009, so it only makes sense that more than 10 years later drivers will begin to see the new regulatory signs installed along highways, alerting motorists of the required “at least three feet of space.”
Designed to enhance safety for bicyclists along the state highway system, the law requires motorists to give people biking at least three feet of space between the widest part of their vehicle and the widest part of the bicyclist. Drivers are allowed to cross a double yellow line to do so when it does not put oncoming traffic at risk.
“These new signs are designed to stress that there is a legal requirement for drivers to maintain a safe space when passing people biking on a shared roadway,” said Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) State Traffic Engineer Stan Lee. Currently, 35 states have statues in place requiring at least three-foot clearance between drivers and bicyclists.
“Studies have shown that these signs are more effective at enhancing safety than the ‘Share the Road’ signs people are used to seeing. They also help make it clear that drivers bear the responsibility for safely passing a bicyclist,” added Lee.
CDOT will begin installing the new signs at various locations around the state in 2022, either as part of road construction or sign replacement projects.
“We’re very excited to see CDOT leading on bicyclist safety by making this change to clearer roadway messaging,” said Bicycle Colorado Director of Government Relations Piep van Heuven. “Words matter, and these new signs leave no doubt about what is expected of drivers when passing a bicyclist on the road—three feet of space, and no less. This change makes our roads safer for everyone.”