The U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C., released a decision Thursday to exchange nearly 700 acres of property with the Snowbasin Ski Area located east of Ogden.

On Sept. 5 of last year, regional forester Stan Tixier approved an exchange program that will allow Snowbasin Ski Area to become a four-season resort.Larry Henson, associate deputy chief for the National Forest System, ruled on Thursday that the decision was sound and supported by records.

The end of the administrative chain will hit within the next 15 days when Secretary of Agriculture Edward Madigan can decide to review or let the exchange program stand.

Sun Valley Corporation, which owns Snowbasin, had asked for a land exchange of 1,320 acres adjacent to the ski resort in order to develope the area into a year-round facility.

Included in the development was an expansion of skiing and overnight lodging, lodge facilities, condominiums, town houses, single family residences, golf courses, cross country skiing center, ice rink and tennis courts.

Dale Bosworth, who was regional forester when the first proposal was submitted last year, said the USF would exchange only 220 acres.

Snowbasin officials said they could not make the financial commitment necessary for the project without more land.

The ski area appealed and, with strong support from local and state agencies and officials, Tixier said studies showed an exchange of 695 acres was in line.

Tixier's decision identified Forest Service lands to be available for exchange. It did not, however, specify the private lands to be included in the exchange proposal.

After the 15-day review period, and if the decision passes with no further action, the only option left to those opposing the project would be through the court system.