Wednesday, September 4, 2013

After fire, Rotarun moving forward

Buildings and lifts saved from blaze

Express Staff Writer

The Beaver Creek Fire burns at Rotarun on Aug. 17. Photo by Willy Cook

    The Beaver Creek Fire swept across the hills above Rotarun ski area west of Hailey last month, but thanks to firefighters the buildings and lifts were spared.
    “It turned out a lot better than I thought, based on what we were hearing,” said Rotarun mountain manger Larry Smith. “The firefighters were awesome. I will never be able to say enough about them.”
    Smith said much of the knoll upon which Rotarun sits was burned, including 500 feet of snow fencing and a dozen straw bales used to capture wind-blown snow.

The firefighters were awesome.
I will never be able to say enough about them.”

Larry Smith
Mountain Manager

    “But all the buildings and the lift towers are OK,” Smith said.
    Also unharmed were communication lines and lift cables. The ski lodge building, which holds 60 people, was also unharmed.
    “I hope we have an early season with a lot of snow,” Smith said. “We need it for skiing and for our watershed. We have not had a good snow year for a while.”
    Rotarun, a nonprofit ski area founded in 1947, usually opens with a free pancake breakfast on a Saturday morning in mid-December.
    “We start skiing out there with 6-8 inches of snow, if it packed decently,” said Rotarun board member Joan Davies. She said her board has applied for numerous grants to expand operations, build snowmaking infrastructure and develop programming.
    Davies said the LASAR Program (learn alpine skiing and racing) will reach out to 60 kids ages 6-12, for after-school training, including night skiing under lights during the evening. Scholarships are available for Rotarun ski programs.
    “Our whole purpose is to make skiing affordable,” Davies said.
     This year, Rotarun will collaborate with Soldier Mountain ski area near Fairfield, providing discounts at Soldier Mountain for Rotarun season pass holders.
    Rotarun, which was founded with financial support from the Rotary Club, depends in part upon donations.
    “We need a lot of support from the public in money, or time, or both,” said Smith. He said immediate expenses include a lift inspection and grass mowing below the second lift tower.
    Smith said snow fencing and straw bales are also a priority, to capture snow for grooming on the upper part of the mountain.
    “If someone wanted to donate some straw bales, that would be great,” Smith said.
    For more information, go to or call 788-6204.
Tony Evans:

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