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Courtesy photo

Rick Richards and Teri Koss at Taos Ski Valley.

When Mr. Bacon bought TSV, I wrote how honored Ernie would be to have his ski area bought by a billionaire and committed land conservationist. But it takes time to really know and see what someone's true intentions are and what direction is actually being taken.

Now, I think this is truly a remarkable era for TSV and the Taos Valley. What has been constructed shows great care for quality and an environmental and financial commitment to TSV and to the planet.

I still remember the Sunday afternoon when Ernie announced to my adoptive father Al Rosen (of Al's Run fame), that he was going to build a ski area in Twining canyon and needed Al's help. I was 11 years old in 1956, the first year TSV was open. It was a welcome boost to Taos' sketchy economy. I have observed all the phases, from crude beginnings to its currently refined state.

I've heard for years people talk about not wanting change, how they want things to "stay the same." I tell those people if changes had not happened they wouldn't be in Taos today.

If we were still just riding the Poma lift up Al's Run they wouldn't be skiing Taos. You had to be an expert and an acrobat to ride that lift. But because change is inevitable, the hope is that these changes will be good for the people and the environment.

To our benefit, Mr. Bacon has a long history of land conservation. It's imperative to understand that what is happening at TSV could not be happening with routine developers who need to make immediate profits.

It's easy to see the beauty and the attention to detail that went into the building of the Blake Hotel and Plaza, the new ice rink and Blake Residences.

Look at the care for the environment when the Kachina lift was built. This beautifully wild, high-altitude ski lift added a whole new dimension to the Taos experience; it's grand up there on the top of the 12,481-foot Kachina Peak. It equals the feelings one gets in the Alps or the Himalayas. The Kachina lift was a huge, positive addition to TSV, New Mexico and US skiing. And for traditionalists, after storms, Kachina opens only for hikers.

While above ground improvements are easiest to notice, the work that has been done below ground is equally impressive and important.

The old water lines and sewer lines were repaired or replaced. The sewage treatment plant was updated and upgraded. The roads have been improved and proper drainages created.

The sculpted wetlands were built to ensure clean water flows into the Río Hondo. TSV has installed water-saving devices wherever possible. No longer selling plastic-bottled drinks, they've installed water bottle refill stations around the mountain.

The Blake Hotel, the Plaza, some walkways and roadways are heated with thermal energy that comes from deep geo-thermal wells located under the Beginner Hill.

Park at the Learning Center, walk up the Ramming Trail next to the Río Hondo. See wildflowers everywhere, listen to the sound of the river. Witness the landscaping; it is a masterpiece of artwork. Visit the Kachina Village. It's all so inviting and friendly.

Because of Mr. Bacon's commitment to high principles, TSV is the first ski resort in the world to become a B Corporation, which means they have met high standards that require accountability. The B Corp designation comes with specific socially responsible guidelines and goals.

To make all of this happen Mr. Bacon has assembled a team of concerned, dedicated, caring and capable people who want to be proactive and responsive. TSV's example can be a model of how things can be if people and communities work together in positive ways.

We are uniquely blessed in Taos with different cultures. The magic is we pretty much know how to respect our differences and to get along. That makes TSV unique among all resorts.

I know how we locals often resent having more people on the ski trails and hiking trails. But if people are enjoying the mountains and having outdoor experiences, they are happier people. It's easy to be selfish and want to keep things "the way they were," but it's important to remember that people are happier, more at peace with themselves and nature after mountain experiences. That's a good thing for mankind and the planet.

Mickey Blake entrusted the Blake legacy to Mr. Bacon. Jean Mayer left his legacy and the Hotel St. Bernard's in Louis Bacon's hands. No one loved and cared for TSV and Taos' future more than Ernie Blake and Jean Mayer. It is a true milagro to have Mr. Bacon's heart and soul attached to TSV, the Taos Valley, New Mexico and the land.

Rick Richards is a lifetime resident of Taos and author of 'Ski Pioneers; Ernie Blake, His Friends and the Making of Taos Ski Valley.'

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