Gondola to connect two Tahoe ski resorts moves ahead
A lawsuit aimed at blocking construction of a gondola to connect Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts in Tahoe has been dismissed, clearing the way to connect 6,000 acres of ski and snowboard terrain.
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, which are under the same ownership, announced Wednesday that they had reached an agreement to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Granite Chief Wilderness Protection League to allow the construction of a 2.2-mile-long gondola, connecting the bases of the two resorts.
When the gondola was first proposed in 2015, environmentalists complained, saying the project would cut through a federally protected wilderness, the Granite Chief Wilderness.
The lawsuit was filed by the league in September against the Placer County Board of Supervisors and the U.S. Forest Service, challenging the adequacy of the environmental analysis and the board’s decision to approve the project.
As part of the agreement to dismiss the lawsuit, the ski resorts will conserve 27 acres of the resorts’ private property as habitat for the endangered Sierra Nevada yellow legged frog and will help fund a study on the protection of the frog.
The resorts also agreed to reroute the gondola line away from the wilderness and to make other changes to reduce noise and visual impacts on the wilderness.
The gondola project has been approved by U.S. Forest Service officials, and the resort operators estimate that construction could take 2½ months. A beginning date for construction has yet to be announced.
The gondola will operate eight-passenger cabins that will transport 1,400 skiers an hour along cables stretched over 33 lift towers. Riders will be able to travel between the base of the two resorts in about 16 minutes.
“We are eager to get going on this game-changing transportation project,” Ron Cohen, president and chief operating officer of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, said in a statement. “We thank the league for its productive approach to resolving this dispute.”