Scoping Meetings For The Proposed Base To Base Gondola Scheduled For May 9th

The Tahoe National Forest seems to be clear about the intended boundary of the Granite Chief Wilderness
The Tahoe National Forest seems to be clear about the intended boundary of the Granite Chief Wilderness

With the fight over the proposed over-expansion of the Village At Squaw Valley now spanning 4 years, the battle of the proposed Base To Base Gondola connection between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows is just about to officially begin. The Notice of Preparation for the project is scheduled to be released this Friday, April 29th. The initial scoping meetings, which allow for public input on the project, are now scheduled for May 9th at the Resort At Squaw Creek.

The viewshed from the deck of the Alpine Meadows lodge...ouch. Another insult from Squaw Valley...
The viewshed from the deck of the Alpine Meadows lodge…ouch. Another insult from Squaw Valley…

Details of the gondola project first began to emerge last summer, with Squaw Valley releasing the preliminary maps that showed the proposed route for the connection. It was those maps that raised eyebrows, and the hackles of the environmentally community because the route crosses the congressionally established boundary of the Granite Chief Wilderness Area. Although that portion of the GCWA is indeed under the private control of White Wolf owner Troy Caldwell, it’s still a sensitive area that was intended to be protected. Even ignoring that fact, building the gondola parallel to the boundary, in view of the popular Five Lakes trail has been very contentious.

There’s also many people that question the actual need for the gondola connection. We’ve always been of the opinion that Squaw Valley Ski Holdings could benefit far more from treating Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows as two entirely different areas that offer two different experiences. Will adding the connection to make SquAlpine the second largest ski area in North America really make it competitive with Whistler-Blackcomb and Park City? Probably not.

The Proposed “Rollers” Chair to serve Estelle Bowl

The website created to present the data for the proposed gondola has quite a bit of other useful background information. One piece that has been widely circulated recently is the 2015 revision of the master plan for Alpine Meadows. There’s been plenty of rumors circulated regarding the addition of a chair to Estelle. The Alpine mid-station of the proposed gondola would provide a jumping off point to construct the “Rollers” lift into Estelle. The chair would terminate below the ride to offer protection from ridge gusts and would offer intermediate level skiing. We have a feeling this will become a very controversial element of the plan. There’s a lot of other proposed updates in the future, including updates for the Hot Wheels and Subway/Meadow lifts.

There’s plenty of reading to do at the new (to most people) website for the project. We totally encourage you to take advantage of the scoping meetings on May 9th. They will give you an opportunity to learn more more about the project. There are actually 2 different meetings scheduled on May 9th. The first will take place from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and the second from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Representatives from SVSH, Placer County and the Tahoe National Forest will be present to answer you questions. The meetings will be held at the  Resort at Squaw Creek, Monument Peak Room, 400 Squaw Creek Road, Olympic Valley, California.

The initial public comment period on the project will be open until May 30th. Written comments must be submitted via mail, fax, electronically, or in person (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays) to:

  • Eli llano, Forest Supervisor
  • c/o NEPA Contractor
  • P.O. Box 2729,
  • Frisco, CO 80443

Electronic comments can be emailed to scoping_comment@squawalpinegondola-eis.com

Respondents should include: (1) name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if any; (2) reference the “Squaw Valley to Alpine Meadows Base-to-Base Gondola Project” and (3) specific facts, concerns or issues, and supporting reasons why they should be considered.

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