WINTER PARK, CO-Silver Creek Holdings Inc. has completed a complicated land swap with the Bureau of Land Management. The holding company owns the Silver Creek Golf and Ski Ranch, situated between Winter Park and the Rocky Mountain National Forest. The deal has Silver Creek purchasing 2,809 acres of private land for $4.5 million to $5 million and trading it for 1,064 acres of bureau land that lies within the resort’s boundaries, two miles south of Granby.

In an immediate turn-around, Silver Creek has allocated 500 acres of the property acquired from the bureau for a conservation easement with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The easement guarantees the acreage will remain undeveloped.

A good deal of the remaining acres is too steep for building, says Bill Murphy, Silver Creek’s executive vice president. “Our motivation was primarily to keep somebody else from ever getting hold of this land,” Murphy tells “If somebody else had bought it, we might not have ended up with 500 acres that will always be open space and designated as an elk habitat.”

The ski resort land has been appraised at nearly three times the value of other acreage in the area. As a result, the resort had to trade about three times more land for the exchange.”A lot of times developers and the BLM get criticized for doing trades,” Murphy says. “But what I think we have here is a pretty incredible deal for the public. We end up buying three times as much land and giving it to the government in exchange for 1,000 acres they had that was land-locked. Frankly, I don’t see how they could have done any better.”

The 5,500-acre resort, owned by Marise Cipriani, is undergoing a $600-million makeover, calling for a new ski village, more skiing terrain, 5,500 new homes and two championship golf courses. Cipriani and her family also own the Berthoud Pass ski area, Blackdog Mountaineering, Silver Creek Rafting Co. and Silver Creek Marina at Grand Lake.

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