Forest Service Allows Chairlift Ads

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DENVER, CO Oct. 27, 2003 (AP) -- The U.S. Forest Service has reversed an earlier decision and will allow small advertisements again this year on chairlifts at four Aspen ski resorts. The ads, which ranged from messages about mints to massages placed on chairlift safety bars, had been allowed last year as a trial program. Last month the agency decided against allowing them to continue because they were not in spirit of rules that forbid outdoor advertising on public lands.

The agency said only logos would be allowed this year, and they could not include the messages that often follow them. Altoids, for example, were shown on the chairlift bars last year with the slogan: ``Curiously strong.'' The ads are placed in a 6.5 inch square at the end of the 52-inch long safety bar that rests on the lap of lift riders.

The Aspen Skiing Co. and the businessman who developed the ads protested the decision to limit the ads to logos because the program was already in the works for this winter. Martha Ketelle, supervisor for the White River National Forest, reviewed the decision and decided it wouldn't be fair to end the program with so little notice. ``We thought it would be better to continue this trial period and have some more dialogue before making the final decision at the end of the season,'' she said Monday.

The ads had drawn a mixed response from the industry. Vail Resorts said none would be allowed at their ski areas because people go to the mountains to escape the everyday world. The National Ski Areas Association endorsed them, as long as they remain in good taste.