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Colorado Ski Areas Paid $17.9M to Use Public Lands Last Year

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There are 11 ski areas in the White River National Forest, making it the most skied national forest in the country. But the privilege to ski in White River doesn't come cheap. For ski areas like Aspen, Snowmass, Vail, Breckenridge, and Beaver Creek, among others, annual fees paid to the federal government for use of public lands total in the millions. In 2015, the ski areas paid more than ever, a record-breaking $17.9 million and 12.5 percent more than the previous year.

The Summit Daily reported on how much each ski area paid to operate in the White River National Forest during the U.S. Forest Service fiscal year 2015. Here's the list:

· Aspen Mountain: $95,568
· Aspen Highlands: $309,024
· Snowmass: $1,572,590
· Buttermilk: $232,090
· Sunlight: $16,572
· Vail Mtn.: $$5,973,624
· Beaver Creek: $1,434,696
· Keystone: $2,265,875
·: Breckenridge: $4,351,381
· A-Basin: $425,796
· Copper Mtn.: $1,246,665

Total: $17,923,884

In the 2014 fiscal year, the ski areas combined to pay $15.92 million. How much a ski area pays depends on how much public land they use and the amount of revenue they log during the year. Aspen Mountain, for example, doesn't use as much public land as Snowmass, and the fees reflect that.

As the above chart indicates, Vail Mountain pays the highest fee, totaling nearly 33 percent of all fees paid to the White River National Forest. According to the Summit Daily, "That reflects the high use of public lands and the high amount of business at the massive resort."

In total, Vail Resorts paid $14.02 million in order for all four of its ski areas to use public lands. That's quite the chunk of change, but it doesn't seem to be slowing down the industry giant much. In the past year, Vail Resorts has spent big on affordable employee housing, summer amenities, and just debuted America's biggest ski area.