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Vail Resorts, Vail butt heads over bighorn sheep and worker housing

Vail Resorts and the Town of Vail are arguing over the ski company wanting to build employee housing on a habitat for bighorn sheep.

VAIL, Colo. — Bighorn sheep and affordable housing are at the center of a political fight in Vail.

Ski company Vail Resorts owns 23 acres of land, five acres of which, in 2019, was approved to build employee housing on, according to Vail Resorts Director of Skier Services Greg Willis.

But, the Town of Vail is now pushing back over a bighorn sheep habitat in the area. 

"We have a piece of property that’s shovel ready, we have done all the work," said Willis. "It was approved in 2019 and we’re ready to go."

Vail’s mayor Kim Langmaid said bighorn sheep have long wintered in that area and while there are large million-dollar homes already near the habitat along with a school, any more construction would be too much for the wildlife.

"What we’re left with is a very small piece of very important winter range for the sheep," said Langmaid. "We need to do whatever we can to protect those sheep."

Credit: 9News

That means the Vail town council could vote to condemn and seize the 23 acres, keeping Vail Resorts from developing it.

The Town of Vail did try to move the housing project to a lot closer to downtown Vail, but Mayor Langmaid says Vail Resorts didn’t want to partner on that project. The town is now building its own affordable housing at that location.

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