TAHOE SKI AREA LAWSUIT SETTLED
6th February 2020 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on February 9th, 2020
The threat of legal action to stop a California ski area building a new gondola to link two resorts has been lifted.
An environmental group has dropped its lawsuit against the Lake Tahoe resorts of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows after agreeing a settlement.
The Squaw Alpine Base-to-Base Gondola – which will link the two resorts of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows – will now go ahead.
They are currently connected only by road.
The Gondola will give access to 6,000 acres of varied ski and snowboard terrain.
Squaw Valley has steeps, glades and groomers while Alpine Meadows has powder bowls and lake views.
The Granite Chief Wilderness Protection League had been concerned that the new lift would threaten the habitat of a rare, protected and endangered frog.
It says it is now satisfied with the measures put in place to protect the wilderness area its wildlife.
We reported on the legal action in our earlier article.
“We are very happy to have worked collaboratively with the League to address their concerns so that resources could be directed to environmentally beneficial purposes, rather than funding an extended lawsuit,” said Ron Cohen, president and chief operating officer of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
“We are eager to get going on this game-changing transportation project. We thank the League for its productive approach to resolving the dispute.”
He added: “Squaw and Alpine are two very different resorts, but one thing they share in common is their guests’ amazing passion for skiing and riding.
“We look forward to preserving the two unique cultures, while at the same time offering our guests the ability to experience both without having to get in a car or shuttle.”
The agreement details the protection measures which will be put in place for rare frog’s habitat and for the nearby Granite Chief Wilderness Area.
It ‘conserves potential habitat for the Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frog and provides funding for its monitoring, research and potential re-establishment’.
There’s also agreement to fund the conservation of land within the wilderness area and to mitigate the effect of gondola operations.
“As a high value Sierra wilderness area, the Granite Chief Wilderness needs ever more safeguards to ensure we leave such wild treasures for future generations,” said Daniel Heagerty, director of the League.
“Squaw Alpine has made significant and greatly appreciated commitments to minimise wilderness impacts and invest in important endangered species conservation efforts.
“We are very pleased with the Agreement we reached with Squaw Alpine.”
As part of the agreement Squaw Alpine has agreed to conserve approximately 27 acres of the resort’s private property, including pristine wetlands and deep natural ponds that have the potential to serve as habitat for the endangered Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frog.
It will also limit the operations of the gondola ‘to mitigate potential noise, visual and other impacts’ to the nearby wilderness.
The gondola will operate during the winter season only, when both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are in operation, and will not run after 30th April.