KSL and Squaw Valley Holdings have a draft permit application into Placer County for the proposed Base-to-Base Gondola development. The alignment appears to remain adjacent to the Five Lakes and cuts through the designated Granite Chief Wilderness Area (though on private lands at this location and on public lands closer to Alpine Meadows). Noteworthy in the application information:
- it will be an 8-passenger gondola with a capacity of 1,400 persons/hour in each direction for an optimal operating condition of 2,800 passengers per hour
- 37 new towers along 13,000 linear feet
- two mid-stations for loading/offloading
- one mid-station (south) located on Forest Service land will sit on a pristine and unique natural resource area, accompanied by a gas-powered generator
- 8 “Gazex exploders” will be installed for avalanche control. Each exploder would require two 4ft X 4ft X 4ft concrete structures with a 15-16 foot long exploder “tube” (the canon)
- 4 “shelters” would be built to store propane gas and oxygen tanks
- each shelter would be 7ft i height and 7ft wide and 7ft long and set on an above-ground platform
- each shelter would have 1-2 inch diameter HDPE pipe(s) extending from the each shelter to each exploder, to transmit the combustible gases that would be under pressure
- approximately 3,000 ft of combustible gas pipeline would be placed on the slopes facing Bear Creek and Alpine Meadows
- the gondola may reduce traffic between Squaw and Alpine by up to 100 vehicles per day
- the applicant asserts that the gondola would only operate during the winter skiing period of any given year
- the application does not mention the associated 38 house development at White Wolf (on the gondola routes’ private property section) or the additional private chairlift recently announced that would go from White Wolf to the top of the Lake Estelle Ridge, to utilize the gondola south mid-station for passenger loading/unloading.
This proposed gondola has several potentially significant impacts that will need to be addressed by the county (per CEQA) and by the US Forest Service (per NEPA). The project will directly and indirectly impact the Wilderness Area, the Five Lakes, the Five Lakes Trail, Alpine Meadows and Bear Creek. The types of impacts will likely include: public safety, water quality, wildlife, aesthetics, recreation, cultural resources, soils/erosion, noise, traffic, air, climate, public access, and night sky.
We encourage you to contact Placer County (see Updates for info) and get on the mailing list for all notices regarding the gondola or related development proposals.