Founded in 1955 by skiing pioneer Ernie Blake, the Taos Ski Valley resort has been run by his children and grandchildren for almost 59 years. But the family announced on Wednesday it is selling the steep New Mexico ski area to billionaire conservationist Louis Bacon.
Bacon is well-known for his hedge-fund fortune and for his conservation efforts, locking his acreage in conservation trusts. He owns several large ranches in Colorado. His easement prohibiting development on Trinchera Blanca ranch in southern Colorado is the largest ever for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as well as the largest in Colorado.
Bacon has owned base-area property in Taos Ski Valley since 1996 and worked with the Blake family to develop a master plan that re-developed the aging village and expanded the mountain’s terrain with new lifts. The Forest Service approved the expansion plans in 2012.
The ski area has 125 employees, some with more than 20 years of experience, a longevity that indicates the significant role of the ski area in northern New Mexico’s rural economy. The deal buys out all the Blake shareholders.
The sale by the Blakes is yet another loss of a family-owned ski area relying on cash earned from lift ticket sales, gear rentals, lessons and hamburgers. Hopefully, Bacon will not allow the land developers to move in and create another Vail-style resort.