Vail Associates, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. and operator of the Vail ski area, has completed the land exchange with the USDA Forest Service as part of the company's proposed “Front Door” project near the Vista Bahn at the base of Vail Mountain. The land exchange involved the exchange of approximately 5.13 acres of Federal land for approximately 493 acres of non-Federal lands, both within the White River National Forest in Eagle County, Colorado. In a simultaneous and related closing, the Forest Service also received an additional approximately 120 acres from The Conservation Fund.
The closing of the land exchange followed the Forest Service decision, issued April 5, 2006, rejecting the appeal of the Forest Service's original decision approving the land exchange. The appeal was filed by Ms. Luanne Wells, a Vail property owner, and a California-based advocacy group/law firm. On April 21, 2006, Ms. Wells, as the only plaintiff, filed a complaint against the USDA Forest Service in federal district court for the district of Colorado further appealing the Forest Service decision to reject her appeal. The Company is not a named defendant in the lawsuit, which is pending. The complaint seeks reversal of the Forest Service's approval on the basis that the exchange parcel was undervalued or that limits should have been placed by the USDA Forest Service on the use of the exchange parcel to correlate with the approved appraised value.
“We are extremely pleased that we have completed the exchange with the Forest Service for the five-acre Federal parcel,” said Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts. “It allows us to proceed to the next steps in the Front Door project.”