Even though visitation to Colorado ski areas fell nearly 10 percent last season, revenues at the state's 23 resorts on federal land remained flat.A review of ski-area permit fees paid to the Forest Service reveals that revenues actually climbed at 11 of Colorado's 23 ski areas operating on federal land. The fees, based on a percentage of gross revenues at ski areas, totaled $16.25 million for 2011-12, down slightly from $16.29 million 2010-11.And five resorts paid their highest fees ever, indicating that Wolf Creek, Eldora, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Snowmass enjoyed banner years for on-mountain revenue in 2011-12, a season marred by 50 percent declines in snowfall and the lowest visitation in 21 years.That's a sign that ski areas have whittled their dependence on snow to a new low. They have built their businesses to withstand decimating dry spells, using a thriving toolbox of strategies.First is snowmaking, which began early in the 2011-12 season thanks to cold temperatures and built a base that kept runs open during the winter."Last year the investments we had made in our snowmaking infrastructure paid off. It truly was the year of the snowmaker, and the pride taken in the quality of our snow surface was evident from start to finish," said Gary Rodgers, chief of Copper Mountain, which saw its revenue climb in 2011-12. "While powder days were not plentiful, the quality of the ski experience, especially for many of our destination guests, was tremendous."The National Ski Areas Association reported in its annual Kottke survey that overnight visits to U.S. ski areas climbed in 2011-12 for the third consecutive season, reaching 48.3 percent, compared with 46.4 percent in 2010-11.To read this article in its entirety, go to http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_21736212/colorado-ski-resorts-held-line-revenue-during-dry?IADID=Search-www.denverpost.com-www.denverpost.com
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