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Forest Service closes Minnie’s Deck for BB&B

Staff Reports

The Forest Service Thursday, March 27, announced a “supervisor’s closure” on Vail Mountain for all of April that will block access to the Minnie’s Deck area, where the end-of-season BB&B party has occurred for the past 20 years.The Forest Service issued a directive to Vail Resorts under the terms of the ski company’s special use permit to shut down the BB&B event on Vail Mountain.BB&B has evolved into a gathering of as many as 2,000 people over the years, a rite of spring on the second Tuesday of April that involves heavy drinking and other antics. According to Forest Service officials, “the behavior of participants posed serious risks to public health and safety as well as caused resource damage.”Vail Resorts officials support the Forest Service directive to discontinue BB&B on Vail Mountain and are cooperating with Forest Service officials and local law enforcement. The closure includes about 15 acres within the Vail ski area that will be closed to the public throughout April. It includes land 150 yards uphill and downhill of Minnie’s Deck; from the east edge of the upper portion of the Born Free ski run; and west of the Minnie’s Lift (Chair 9) lift line.”Vail Mountain will remain open for skiers and snowboarders. The Forest Service closure includes a very small area, 15 acres or so, out of Vail’s 5,289 skiable acres,” District Ranger Cal Wettstein said.”The closure will be in effect due to irresponsible behavior on National Forest system land, as a means to end the BB&B event. This is your public land, and it is managed to provide a safe and enjoyable recreation opportunity for everyone.”During the closure period, law enforcement personnel and authorized, uniformed ski area personnel will be monitoring the area for violators. Closure violators will be cited and subject to arrest.Forest Service officials say that if there is evidence of an effort to relocate the event elsewhere on Vail Mountain, additional forest closures may be implemented.Vail Resorts also will revoke season pass privileges for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons for anyone violating the closure.”The Forest Service has directed Vail Mountain to end BB&B and we support and are complying with that directive and the supervisor’s closure,” said Bill Jensen, Vail chief operating officer. “In addition, any person who violates the Forest Service closure or does not support or comply with the regulations on the hill will lose all lift pass privileges for the next two seasons.”Vail Resorts to buy chunk of Cheeca LodgeVail Resorts announced last week that its RockResorts subsidiary has entered into a deal to become a 12.5 percent owner of the Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, Fla. The Cheeca Lodge & Spa is currently managed but not owned by RockResorts.The Annual George Bush/Cheeca Lodge Bonefish Tournament is held at the resort every year and has traditionally been hosted by former President George H. W. Bush.The newly formed syndicate will purchase the property for an undisclosed amount from an affiliate of Olympus Real Estate Partners. Closing is expected to occur within 45-60 days.As a result of the deal, RockResorts has secured a 20-year management contract for the property and will implement a $10 million renovation to be completed in 2004.The Cheeca Lodge & Spa has 203 rooms and suites set on 27 acres of oceanfront property with a 1,100-foot long beach on the Atlantic Ocean in the Florida Keys.EVHS senior wins 2003 Congressional Arts CompetitionCongressman Mark Udall (D-Colo.) last week announced that 17-year old Eagle Valley High School senior Chase Morrison is the winner of the 2003 Congressional Arts Competition. The announcement was made at FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield, where more than 200 art competition entries from area high school students are on display until March 16.StorageTek will award Morrison with a $600 cash prize, and he will also receive from Frontier Airlines three round-trip tickets to Washington, D.C., where he will be recognized in a national ceremony.His oil pastel, entitled “the Slave,” will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year.”Creating art is my past, present, and future,” Morrison said. “Ever since I was little, I have thoroughly enjoyed painting, sculpture and drawing. It has always been a means for expressing myself and a way of celebrating my family and the human race. I love art and it will always be an inseparable part of my life.”Vail bus service scales back 3 weeks earlyTown of Vail buses will transition from the winter schedule to an interim summer schedule beginning Monday, March 31, three weeks earlier than in previous years due to budget cuts.The reduction, a savings of approximately $4,000 a day, is a result of the scaled back 2003 budget, effective Jan. 1.Beginning March 31, the interim summer schedule, which will run through April 20, will provide 40 minute to one hour service on most outlying routes during peak times and one-to-two hour service on most outlying routes during non-peak times. The first full day of free parking in Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures will coincide with the transition to the spring bus schedule April 21.For more information on bus service, call the town’s Transportation/Parking Department at (970) 479-2178.– Vail Trail staff reports


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