Last Sunday's editorial about Congressman Jim Hansen's proposal to sell federal lands to ski areas implies that he offered the amendment without consulting any ski area operators. This is not the case. Hansen has not "decided on his own what is best for . . . the resorts" as the editorial stated.
Throughout his political career, Hansen has assisted Utah and other public-land ski-area operators with problems concerning the federal government. He asked officials at several resorts in Utah and elsewhere in the nation their opinions on privatizing the national forest lands on which they operate. At first inquiry, a number of ski areas nationally supported the idea; however, as legislative language formulated, most areas realized they did not know enough about community concerns or the proposition's effect on their operations to support it now.The statement that "no hearings have been held on the plan" is not accurate. As the editorial pointed out, the idea was discussed as part of a hearing on a national parks fee-reform bill.
Generally, the public-land ski areas have a good public/private partnership with their Forest Service landlords. Hansen has set in motion a discussion by interested parties on the merits of selling federal assets to help reduce the size of government while preserving access by the public to these national forest lands. We support this dialogue.
President, National Ski Areas Association