Washington State Legislator Seeks to Outlaw Skiing Closed Areas

Updated: 3:40 p.m. MST Jan. 25, 2011
Originally published: 10:00 a.m. MST Jan. 25, 2011

Olympia, WA – A Washington state legislator is introducing a bill at the state senate that will outlaw skiing and snowboarding within closed areas at resorts.

Puyallup Democrat Jim Kastama has introduced Senate Bill 5186 that would make skiing such areas within a resort a civil infraction subject to a $1,000 fine.

The bill would authorize a resort’s ski patrol to collect evidence of an infraction and turn it over to the local sheriff for prosecution. Kastama himself is a volunteer ski patroller at Crystal Mountain ski resort.

Kastama’s bill is aimed at skiers ignoring closed signs and ropes. Kastama is quick to point out that rights to backcountry skiing outside of a resort would be preserved, and when contacted today emphasized that this bill in no way restricts backcountry skiing and riding.

“This legislation deals just with what’s inside the bounds of a ski area, those areas that are clearly marked as closed,” Kastama emphasized. “Those are avalanche prone areas. Out of bounds skiing is completely intact in this bill.”

Kastama indicates that his patrol at Crystal Mountain has experienced an increase in people ducking ropes to ski and ride in closed areas, prompting him to author SB 5186, and cites five resulting deaths in closed areas at Crystal Mountain in the past 10 years. Kastama says that his legislation is modeled on existing laws already in place in Alaska.

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