On August 22nd, Granite Chief Wilderness Protection League challenged Placer County’s approval of the Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows Base-to-Base Gondola Project in the Superior Court of the State of California.
Squaw/Alpine’s project proposes a gondola, dozens of towers, and two large mid-stations that will permanently alter what is now a pristine Sierra Nevada environment bordering the Granite Chief Wilderness Area, bisecting the existing wilderness trail, Five Lakes Trail, used for decades by hikers and recreational visitors.
Huey Johnson, a board member of the Protection League and the former California Secretary of Natural Resources who pioneered protections for these Congressionally protected lands within the Granite Chief Wilderness Area, slammed Placer County’s approvals. “This will desecrate a wilderness sanctuary. There are other less damaging alternatives that would allow this small subset of skiers to travel between Squaw and Alpine without constructing these towers amidst this pristine area,” said Johnson, who is also Board Chair of Resource Renewal Institute.
This is but a first step in transforming this pristine area into one that is developed with roads, housing, and considerable human-made infrastructure. “In so doing”, states the court document, “the Project will have significant impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”)…to visitors, wildlife and the physical environment, which impacts have neither been adequately identified or mitigated in the Environmental Impact Report certified by [Placer County].” Furthermore, the project will lead to considerable development within critical habitat designated for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog.
Daniel Heagarty, Executive Director of the GCWPL, and others have long decried how the impacts to Five Lakes Trail have been hidden and trail closures impacting thousands have not been disclosed. The Granite Chief Wilderness will be fundamentally transformed with scores of gondola cabins transporting some 1400 people every hour over these cliffs and mountains along its eastern boundary—with all these impacts to save a few skiers a little time.
The County’s Environmental Impact Report does not adequately consider these and other impacts, nor does it accurately assess the cumulative impacts of the Project in combination with a massive private development being simultaneously proposed at Squaw Valley, directly adjacent to the wilderness area.
Read the full petition for writ of mandate here.
Read the full press release here.
Please fight to preserve these important community and natural resources critical to the identity of North Lake Tahoe and dear to the supporters of Granite Chief Wilderness Protection League (GCWPL). Sign and send around our petition. Donations to our efforts can be sent to the address below:
Resources Renewal Institute
ATTN: Granite Chief Wilderness Protection League
187 East Blithedale Avenue
Mill Valley, California 94941
Tax ID 68-0038012