Adding To The Confusion

Another editorial appeared in this week’s Sierra Sun regarding the proposal to connect Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley by a base to base gondola. This one was penned by none other than the “man in the middle”, Troy Caldwell. The opinion piece is titled “Clearing up confusion over the potential Squaw-Alpine gondola.”

Caldwell is the owner of the White Wolf property, located between Alpine and Squaw. The White Wolf property is currently at the center of the controversy involving private property rights versus the creation of the Granite Chief Wilderness in 1984.

Image via Snowbrains.com
Image via Snowbrains.com

In this latest editorial, Caldwell suggests that the boundary of the Granite Chief Wilderness area does indeed end where his property line begins. While he may be correct in stating that the United States Forest Service cannot enforce the protections offered by the Wilderness Act on private land, he fails to recognize what the Squaw Valley Ski Holding legal team has already conceded:

“The portion of the Caldwell parcel over which the interconnect will operate is within the mapped boundary of the Granite Chief Wilderness Area, established under the Wilderness Act of 1964 (the original enabling legislation passed by Congress) and the California Wilderness Act of 1984, which designated certain lands within the state of California as federally designated Wilderness Areas.”

The section of the USGS topo map is indeed clearly stamped as wilderness.
The section of the USGS topo map is indeed clearly stamped as wilderness.

While I don’t believe I have ever had the chance to meet Caldwell in person for more than a moment, I have always supported his dream of creating the private White Wolf resort between Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley, especially in that it created a buffer that prevented a connection. I also have appreciated that the Caldwell’s have preserved the public easement that allows public access to the Five Lakes Trail. But now that it appears that Caldwell has been befriended by Andy Wirth, and his visions have been tainted by what is likely to be very significant sums of money, and I can no longer support his vision.

While Caldwell suggests that the founders of Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley had dreamed of connecting the two resorts, I wonder if this is another one of those convenient fabrications from the offices of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and KSL Capital. It’s unfortunate that John Reily and Alex Cushing are no longer around to get the truth. I believe they would say something different than what Andy and Troy have been saying.

There’s no confusion regarding the need to protect the Lake Tahoe region and surrounding wilderness areas from unnecessary development. We encourage people to speak up, as the need to protect our local resources is more important than protecting the investments of KSL Capital. We only have one Lake Tahoe, one Alpine Meadows and one Squaw Valley – there are no second chances.

 

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