Aspen, other resorts in White River pay record $22.56 million in permit fees |

Aspen, other resorts in White River pay record $22.56 million in permit fees

A skier heads down the slope at Aspen Highlands Thursday. Highlands is one of 11 ski resorts in the White River National Forest that uses public lands for its operations.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times


The 11 ski resorts in the White River National Forest pay a permit fee for use of public lands. The resorts combined for a record amount of payment in 2018-19, reflecting a record year for skier visits and other resort operations. Here are the cumulative amounts paid by the resorts for the past four years.

2019 $22.56 million

2018 $20.43 million

2017 $20.18 million

2016 $19.94 million

The 11 ski areas in the White River National Forest paid a record amount of permit fees for use of public lands in 2019, reflecting booming business last winter.

The ski areas paid a combined $22.56 million this year — an increase of $2.13 million, or 9%, from 2018. Aspen Skiing Co. and the Colorado ski industry as a whole set a record for skier visits last season.

A total of $20.43 million was paid in 2018, reflecting the below average snow year of 2017-18.

Ski resort operators pay a fee based on what Forest Service officials have previously said is an extremely complex formula. It factors in the percentage of public lands used by ski areas as well as gross revenue from ski operations. Fees have been trending up in recent years because many resorts are adding summer business. That expanded business translates into higher permit fees.

The Forest Service changed its policy in 2018 and will release only aggregated amounts for ski permit fees paid (see related story on page A1).

In 2017, the amount collected was $20.18 million and the amount was $19.94 million in 2016. The revenue goes to the U.S. Treasury.

The last year that individual ski area fees were disclosed to the public was 2017, reflecting the 2016-17 season. At that time Snowmass paid the most in permit fees among Aspen Skiing Co.’s four ski areas at $1.62 million. Vail Mountain paid the most in fees by a wide margin at $6.39 million.

The ski areas on the White River National Forest are Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, Buttermilk, Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain and Sunlight Mountain Resort.

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