Although Squaw Valley|Alpine Meadows may never actually lay claim to being the largest resort in North America, they may be able to lay claim to generating the most widely spread opposition to their plans. Last week, Squaw Valley Ski Holding CEO Andy Wirth released an “update” on the proposed base to base gondola connection between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. At that same moment, a new organization, The Granite Chief Wilderness Protection League, activated their website and Facebook page, with a goal of protecting the Granite Chief Wilderness area. As we have noted before, the proposed path of the gondola does travel through the designated boundary of the wilderness area.
Since purchasing Squaw Valley, and then Alpine Meadows, in 2011 – Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and KSL Capital have excelled in getting the community to rally together in response to development plans that have been proposed. These include:
- Friends of Squaw Valley, whose goal is making the development something we can all live with.
- Incorporate Olympic Valley, whose goal is to simply offer more local control via an incorporation of the town of Olympic Valley.
- Keep Squaw True, an outreach movement of Sierra Watch, whose goal is to come up with a development plan that is appropriate for the area and reduces environmental impacts in the entire North Tahoe area.
- Friends of Alpine Meadows, whose goal is to “Keep Alpine Alpine” and encourage the notion of Alpine Meadows offering a similar mountain to Squaw, but a vastly different experience.
With the creation of the new Granite Chief group, there are now at least five groups looking to have a say in what happens to the Squaw and Alpine communities. That in itself says a lot.
So what does the newly released video from Squaw Valley actually say? Here it is:
Video courtesy of Squaw Valley Facebook page
Yes, it pretty much says not much of anything, other than “we needed to do something to generate some public support” for Squaw Valley. The one little factoid we got from the video was that approximately 2000 people have signed on to help the effort to support the gondola project. We’ve already been contacted by several people that said they only signed up to stay informed – and that they had no plans to actually support the project. We’re actually surprised that the number is not higher. On a normal busy day at UnofficialAlpine.com, we get 2000 readers.
Ultimately, we expect that Squaw Valley will have no trouble getting Chad and Julie from Muskogee to sign on to support the project. They’re super stoked to be able to post on SnapChat that they rode 28 lifts during their one week stay at SquAlpine. They won’t give a thought about the how the cultures of the two mountains were affected by the merger. Nor will they care that the gondola will be built through the Granite Chief Wilderness area, which they though was located in Pennysylvania. But now they can ski those easy groomers over at Alpine, and still get back for a GNAR burger for lunch in the village.
Does it matter how many people Squaw Valley signs on as supporters? We think it doesn’t. Ultimately, it took thousands of people hundreds of years to recognize that our environmental resources need protection from the hands of those that are looking to make a quick buck. It has taken years of work by our legislatures, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, and many other groups and individual activists to create things like our state and national parks and designated wilderness areas. Imagine where we would be in the Lake Tahoe region if the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency had not come into being in 1969?
We encourage you to reread the guest editorial we published a month ago from Daniel Heagerty on the subject of the gondola project. Heagerty has gone on to form the new group working to protect the future of the Granite Chief Wilderness area. Kudos to our new friends at the The Granite Chief Protection League – we appreciate your efforts.