So…How Green Is That Helicopter?

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The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported this week that a Reno company is planning to begin helicopter service from Reno to Squaw Valley and Mammoth. The article comes just two weeks after Squaw Valley went press with it’s green campaign. Certainly it would have been ironic if the two articles had been published in the same week!

Whisperjet Helicopters established its new base in Reno three months ago. The company normally is involved in timber operations, but is seeking to expand into commercial passenger service to keep busy during the winter months. According to the article, Whisperjet is working with Squaw Valley and the FAA to establish a helipad for the service. New multi-passenger helicopters would be purchased to operate the route.

There’s been quite a bit of talk around Tahoe and on the internet ski forums about the need for the service. The obvious question is why anyone would need a 20 minute helicopter ride to Squaw, when a shuttle van or bus can make the trip in 40 minutes. Considering that your typical person arriving at the airport would need to take a shuttle bus to the heliport just to get to the helicopter – it probably would take longer to get to Squaw via helicopter.

Last week we noted that Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth has focused his attention on bringing in passengers from afar via the Reno-Tahoe airport. Air transportation is one industry that can leave a large carbon footprint. Adding a helicopter link to Squaw Valley only adds to the ludicrous nature of Squaw Valley’s green claim. Whisperjet’s plan to deal with baggage and skis makes matters even worse, requiring separate helicopters for passengers and baggage.

Whisperjet may purchase helicopters that seat between six and 16 passengers to move people and use the company’s existing fleet of utility copters to haul luggage and ski gear. – Geoff Hall, Whisperjet CEO

It seems more clear every day that KSL Capital and Squaw Valley Ski Holdings are only paying lip service to the subject of climate change. How is it that they can have a partnership with Protect Our Winters, while making environmentally irresponsible choices that will only serve to increase the resort’s carbon footprint?

We asked POW officials for a comment and here is the gist  of their response:

“Squaw is an integral part of the work we do fighting climate change.  They understand the threat and the most effective solutions, and when we’ve asked Squaw to be involved in what we do fighting climate change, they are always in 100%.  Whether it’s policy-related or an effort to build greater awareness and involvement, Squaw Valley (via the Mountain Collective) has been an influential partner and an integral part of our climate work.”     – Chris Steinkamp, Executive Director of POW

When will the Protect Our Winters folk realize that their reputation is being seriously harmed by their connection to Squaw Valley, which seems to have no real interest in making sure snow is there for generations to come? Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and KSL Capital is proposing to build the largest development ever in the Sierra.

We hope that Squaw Valley takes this as on opportunity to demonstrate a true commitment to impacting climate change by telling Whisperjet “No, thank you.”

 “I like the name of the helicopter company, Whisperjet.  Yes, and war is peace.” – TGR Forums



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