Gold Medalist Julia Mancuso 3/1/17

Forest Service Releases Videos Featuring Julia Mancuso, Highlighting Tahoe National Forest and Upcoming World Cup at Squaw Valley

[Nevada City, Calif.] Feb. 23, 2017 – The Forest Service is releasing two videos featuring Olympic gold medalist Julia Mancuso, highlighting the beauty and recreational values of the Tahoe National Forest. The videos were produced in cooperation with Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, which is hosting World Cup ski events in March 2017. The women’s world cup races are the first to take place in California in nearly twenty years.

In the videos, Julia Mancuso invites visitors to enjoy places where she learned to ski as a young child. These mountains overlook world-famous Lake Tahoe. Mancuso grew up in the Tahoe-Truckee region and has seven World Cup wins, five World Championship podium finishes and three Olympic medals, including a gold medal in the giant slalom at the 2006 games in Turin, Italy.

“Wintertime activities are a wonderful way for people to experience the National Forests,” said Eli Ilano, Forest Supervisor for the Tahoe National Forest. “Partners like Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows help make skiing, snowboarding and many other opportunities possible on the Tahoe National Forest.”

Like more than 120 ski areas across the United States, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are located on National Forest lands. The Forest Service works with permittees to conserve and restore these public lands. Seven ski areas on the Tahoe National Forest operate under permit with the Forest Service.

“It is with pride and great respect that we operate portions of our mountains on lands managed by the United States Forest Service,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, the parent company of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. “It’s particularly fitting for the USFS and our company to not just celebrate our partnership but also promote the upcoming Audi FIS Ski Alpine World Cup.”

Forest Service employees will be at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup at Squaw Valley to greet and educate visitors about the Tahoe National Forest. Events take place from March 9-12 at Squaw Valley. The Women’s Giant Slalom is on Friday, March 10 and Women’s Slalom is on Saturday, March 11. For more information:

New Sheriff in Town 1/25/17


Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner and Undersheriff Devon Bell

Placer County Undersheriff Devon Bell has been selected to succeed his boss upon Sheriff Ed Bonner’s retirement in February.

Bell’s appointment was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. Bell will fill the remainder of Bonner’s term, which expires in 2018. Bonner cited health concerns earlier this month in announcing his retirement.

Bell thanked the board for its vote of confidence. “This enables us to maintain the continuity of sheriff’s operations,” he said in a written statement.

Bell, a 25-year veteran of the department, has served in various capacities and, as second in command, he has been responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, the news release said. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice management and a master’s degree in security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School.

“I have worked closely with Devon for the last 10 years; briefly as assistant sheriff, and as my undersheriff – my second in command,” Bonner said in a written statement. “He started out as a student of administration and has grown to be my colleague, my business partner, my confidant, my mentor and my friend. With the board action today, Devon will be sheriff in about a month, and I could not be more proud.” Read more here:

Lake Tahoe Basin 1/25/17

Tahoe RCD Records Largest Stormwater Flows at Monitoring Sites

The early storm event that began on January 7 with over 5 inches of rain in some regions of the Lake Tahoe Basin before turning to snow, delivered a massive amount of runoff to the Lake in a short period of time. During this storm event the Tahoe RCD Stormwater Monitoring Program measured the highest flows ever recorded at all eight monitoring locations since monitoring began in 2013. Our Tahoe Valley site, located off Tahoe Keys Blvd, measured 1.5 million cubic feet of flow, nearly 90% of the flow that was observed throughout the whole 2016 water year!

The Tahoe RCD monitors urban stormwater runoff around the Lake Tahoe Basin, providing the science that helps guide stormwater managers in environmental improvement project design and informs them if projects and management strategies have been successful in reducing pollutant loading to Lake Tahoe. Each stormwater sample is analyzed for fine sediment particles (FSP), nitrogen, and phosphorus to estimate nutrient and sediment loading from urban stormwater runoff. This last storm produced over 18 million gallons of runoff just from the sites we monitor alone. All data collected throughout a “water year”, October to September, is compiled into an annual monitoring report, given to stormwater managers and posted on the Tahoe RCD website. With successful implementation of environmental improvement projects that promote infiltration of runoff before it gets discharged to the lake, we have had the pleasure of retiring two of our urban stormwater monitoring sites as we saw significant reductions in pollutant loading from these locations.

The Stormwater Monitoring Program is continuously looking for ways to improve stormwater monitoring efforts. New for the 2017 monitoring season, the majority of our sites were outfitted with remote monitoring equipment, allowing us to monitor these sites with smartphones. The new remotely accessible equipment effectively allows our team to view what is happening at our monitoring sites in real time, and determine the best way to manage each individual site during storm events. Our scientific monitoring team is deployed in the most inclement of weather, because good science doesn’t take a break. The severity of this recent storm brought downed trees, dangerous road conditions, and a wealth of water. However, with these remote monitoring systems in place, our team was able to monitor all of our sites without making extensive trips into the field from the safety and comfort of our homes. This new remote technology allows for more reliable data management and easier data reporting. Visit to discover our monitoring locations or view our 2016 Annual Monitoring Report.

About the Tahoe Resource Conservation District – Tahoe Resource Conservation District’s mission is to promote conservation, stewardship and knowledge of the Lake Tahoe Region’s natural resources by providing leadership and innovative environmental services to all stakeholders. The Tahoe RCD is a non-regulatory, grant-funded, public agency that works with partner agencies to implement projects, programs and outreach which currently focus on stormwater management, aquatic invasive species prevention and control, conservation landscaping and restoration.

Squaw Plays Trump Card 11/16/16

img_4233-1024x593New post on
Squaw Plays Trump Card, Supes Approve Village Plan 4-1
by Mark

There really was only a dim hope that something different would happen yesterday at the Placer County Board of Supervisors meeting. Once the trump card was played early on during the 10 hour meeting, the writing was on the wall. Supervisors approved the controversial Village At Squaw Valley Specific Plan by a vote of 4-1. I wouldn’t be putting on your swim suit just yet though. It’s pretty likely that the next step in the process will be the litigation process, after Placer County is sued over what many believe was a faulty environmental review process.

What was the trump card? Well, as many have noted here over and over, money does talk. Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth did eventually get his meeting with the California Attorney General’s office. It probably wasn’t Kamala Harris herself, but someone in the AG’s office did roll over. Squaw Valley volunteered to pay $440,000 to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to mitigate the possible effects of increased traffic on Lake Tahoe from the proposed Village project. In return, the AG’s office agreed not to file suit over the approval of the project. Keep that in mind if Kamala Harris ends up on the Democratic ticket in 2020!

By our estimates, 300 to 400 people were in the room for much of the 10 hour meeting. We did a pretty unscientific tally of the approximately 110 people that provided public comments during the meeting. About 80 of the people whom spoke asked for a reduction in the size of the project. Approximately 25 people spoke in favor of the proposal, mostly people who are Squaw’s payroll, or who own businesses that are likely to benefit from the expansion. Three people either stated that they were neutral or spoke in circles in a way that left us scratching our heads.

The bad news is that Placer County sided with the narrow interests of an out-of-state developer and against the shared values of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada. The good news is that this is not the end of the road for our effort to Keep Squaw True. – Tom Mooers, Sierra Watch

The Friends of Squaw Valley group, which came to be known as the “Gang of Five” (Stepner, Shanser, Barnett, Ilfeld and Carabetta) did their best to offer an alternative for supervisors. The proposal was attempted to show that a project that was about 65% of the currently proposed project could be financially viable. A key part of the proposal included that new construction that has already been approved at the Resort At Squaw Creek and the Plumpjack would bring bedroom capacity in the valley to the number that Squaw Valley felt was viable. Ultimately, this proposal was shot down because it did not guarantee to provide the same pittances that Squaw has offered to pay for the renovation of Squaw Creek, local parks and trails and transportation initiatives.

Classic KSL propaganda. Because you can enjoy yourself in a pool, you’re supporting building a massive one anywhere in the world, no matter how spectacular a place is? I’ve shopped in a Walmart before. Should they be built in Yosemite Valley? – Scott Gaffney, in response to a poster showing his family enjoying the Truckee community pool.

After hours of public testimony, each supervisor took the time to state their thoughts on the proposal. It’s pretty clear that the four supervisors from the east side of Placer County came to the meeting with their minds already made up. Supervisor Montgomery, representing District 5, noted that she understood the responsibility to vote with her constituents desires, whom had clearly been asking for a smaller project. She made the first motion of the day, to deny the current application and look at the 65% solution offered but the “gang of five”. The motion failed for lack of a second. A second series of motions was made to make the required approvals to set the Village plan into action, and they were quietly approved 4-1, with Supervisor Montgomery making the quiet “no” to each vote.

It was a classic Developer 101 tactic, and the supervisors fell for it hook, line and sinker. KSL Capital came in and asked for a project more than double than what they actually wanted. Everyone came out looking like a good guy in the end because the project was “reduced by more than half.” It’s likely that most of the Placer supervisors will soon be bragging about the killer Black Friday deal where they got 75% off of some second rate flat screen TV that was originally priced at 200% of its actual value.

So the public part of the process is over for now, and frankly that is a huge relief for those that are fatigued from reading about it, and especially for those of us that are tired of writing about it. It’s safe to say that we are likely still years away from a shovel of dirt being turned. There’s the litigation process to be completed and when that is done, Squaw Valley will be able to sell off the development rights to other parties. Each individual component of the project will again need to go through that standard planning process at Placer County. There’s still the question of the proposed Base To Base Gondola, which is separate from the Village plan. How much money will it take for Squaw Valley to buy the approval of the US Forest Service?

Don’t Need This 7/20/16

See video here :

by Mark
It’s been about six years since KSL Capital purchased Squaw Valley promising a “renaissance.” Since then, many people have discovered that those plans included a lot of things that many believe that Squaw Valley and the North Lake Tahoe region do not need:

A 90,000 square foot 96’ tall indoor waterpark with waterslides, indoor waterskiing, fake rivers, arcades, and a 30 lane bowling complex
1,493 new bedrooms spread among a series of highrise condo hotels (many of which would be nearly 100’ tall) surrounding the existing village
21 timeshare mansions on undeveloped land in the mouth of Shirley Canyon
One year later, KSL Capital, via Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, purchased Alpine Meadows. With that has come the dream of connecting the two resorts, resulting in the proposal for the unpopular Base To Base gondola. The gondola would traverse through a section of the Granite Chief Wilderness. It would also change the Alpine Meadows experience forever.

Although Squaw Valley Ski Holdings was successful in spending $850,000 to crush the Olympic Valley incorporation movement, they have not crushed the spirit of the community. There’s been growing opposition to the Village at Squaw Valley plan. More than 350 people made comments during the Environmental Impact Report process that opposed the plan or asked for significant reductions in the plan. The local Municipal Advisory Committee also recommended that Placer county deny the plan in May.

The Placer County Planning Commission will be considering the proposal on August 11th. The time and location the meeting has still not been set. Our friends at Sierra Watch released a short film this week that captures the true spirit of their “Keep Squaw True” movement. We hope it inspires a large number of you to get involved and let Placer County know that this is something we don’t want or need for Squaw Valley, or the entire North Lake Tahoe Region.



The Community Says No To The Village At Squaw Valley Project…Again

Hundreds of people attended last Saturday’s Squaw Valley MAC meeting. Image via Keep squaw True
The community continues to deliver the message that they are not willing to accept the proposed Village At Squaw Valley project as currently proposed. Last Saturday, the Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council voted 3-1 to recommend that the Placer County Board of Supervisors deny the application by Squaw Valley to build the oversized project.

It’s not the first time the community resisted the plan. For more than two years, the community tried to organize and incorporate as the town of Olympic Valley to gain more local control over the plan. Squaw Valley and Andy Wirth, under the friendly moniker “Save Olympic Valley”, spent more than $800,000 fighting the incorporation effort, finally killing it off last fall. There was also strong community opposition after the release of the draft Environmental Impact Report last summer. The dEIR identified “23 different significant and unavoidable impacts” from the proposed project. Roughly 350 different individuals, businesses and government agencies expressed their opposition to the plan, mostly based on the scale of the project and resulting issues with traffic, noise, use of local resources and the expected 25 year construction period.

Sure, there’s an occasional person out there that does support the project. We noted that this letter appeared in support of the project in the Sierra Sun recently. It points out a simple fact. Nearly every one of these letters comes from someone that stands to directly benefit from the project. The letter this week was from an upper level employee at Squaw Valley. Other letters of support have come from both athletes and local non-profits that are essentially sponsored by Squaw Valley.

“Saturday was a great night for Squaw and everyone who loves Lake Tahoe. Hundreds of people turned out, and the Council demonstrated true leadership in taking a stand for Squaw.” – said Tom Mooers, Executive Director of Sierra Watch

KSL Capital Partners purchased the North Tahoe resort in 2010, citing Squaw’s “great growth potential”. Their final Village at Squaw Village Specific Plan proposes to remake Squaw Valley with development of scale and type never before seen in North Lake Tahoe. KSL is asking for 25 years worth of entitlements for:

A 90,000 square foot 96’ tall indoor waterpark with waterslides, indoor waterskiing, fake rivers, arcades, and a 30 lane bowling complex;
1,493 new bedrooms spread among a series of highrise condo hotels (many of which would be nearly 100’ tall) surrounding the existing village;
21 timeshare mansions on undeveloped land in the mouth of Shirley Canyon; and
a propane “tank farm” with 30,000 gallon tanks at the entrance to the resort.
On Saturday, Chevis Hosea, Squaw Valley VP of Real Estate, rose to represent the developers, touting the economic development their project would bring and explaining how the $1,000/square foot condos would make Squaw Valley a world-class destination.

He announced a change in their plans: trimming the height of the indoor waterpark from 108 to 96 feet, a modest reduction that would still allow the developers – and Tahoe – to lay claim to the tallest indoor waterslide in North America.

Three members of the Squaw Valley MAC were forced to recuse themselves from the meeting as they had potential conflicts of interest. It’s our guess that had all members voted, the best result that Squaw Valley developers could have expected would be a 5-2 vote to recommend denying the application, although it’s quite possible it could have gone 6-1.

In addition to passing the motion to recommend denying the application, the Council made a second vote to recommend that that Placer County supervisors approve the alternative version of the project presented in the Environmental Impact Report. That version would cut the project by about 50% and eliminate nearly all of the predicted impacts from the project. The council’s motion includes a request that a new EIR be completed to fully analyze the reduced plan.

12036484_1134781646588092_7145735979392869173_nThe Placer County Planning Commission is slated to review the project next. The meeting, which reportedly was scheduled for late May has now been postponed until June. Will the community also show up by the hundreds to let them know this project is just too big? We have no doubts they will be there in force.

“Isn’t there already enough adventure here in this valley? Shouldn’t we be exposing kids to the natural wonders of this valley?” – Sally Brew, Squaw Valley resident

Base To Ugly 5/11/16

New post on                                                                  The Base To Base Gondola: An Ugly Future For Alpine Meadows –by Mark
Not what anybody wants to see from Alpine Meadows road, or the Alpine Meadows community.
Not what anybody wants to see from Alpine Meadows road, or the Alpine Meadows community. This is an artist’s conception of the view of the gondola mid-station produced by the SE Group.

The initial scoping meetings were held for the proposed SquAlpine Base To Base gondola this week. “Here we go again” is the best summary I can give. We’ve been going through the environmental review process for the Village At Squaw Valley project for the last two years, and now here we are, at square one of the process for the Base To Base Gondola project. Unfortunately, this one will be more complicated, with two studies happening simultaneously. At the scoping meetings, officials from Placer County and the Tahoe National Forest worked together to explain their respective parts of the review process.

In a nutshell, Placer County will be handling the CEQA required Environmental Impact Report. That report will be produced by Ascent Environmental. Together, that is the team that produced the EIR for the Village At Squaw Valley project, which identified 23 “significant and unavoidable impacts” from the project. During the comment period, the public supplied about 350 comments about the proposed project. In the end analysis, approximately 300 of those comments were pretty much ignored. We heard many questions today about whether it even made sense to get involved with the Placer County review, only to have no real impact on the project.

The Tahoe National Forest will be handling the NEPA required Environmental Impact Statement. That report will be produced by the SE Group. Sound familiar? Yes, it is the same SE Group that also performed the studies for Squaw Valley Ski Holdings regarding options for the proposed gondola. If you’re thinking that it sounds like the fox is guarding the henhouse, you’re not alone.

Much of the scoping meetings were spent on introducing the participants in the process and identifying that the only comments that would be collected at this time were those that addressed the scope of the environmental review. Promises were made by the nice woman from Placer County that there would be opportunities at a later date to discuss the actual merits of the project. Right….

SVSH Manager Jim Spenst sells the idea of destroying the edge of the Granite Chief Wilderness.

SVSH Manager Jim Spenst sells the idea of destroying the edge of the Granite Chief Wilderness.

SVSH Project Manager Jim Spenst then gave a cursory overview of the project, identifying the location of key components on colorful maps. He also explained the need for the Gazex system to control avalanches in the Buttress area, rather than relying on the Howitzer and hand charges. One point that was different was that he said at both meetings today that the purpose of the project was not to increase skier numbers at the mountains. Squaw Valley is willing to invest somewhere north of $35 million simply to reduce 100 car trips a day between Alpine Meadow and Squaw Valley. Right…

Sell, sell, sell!

Sell, sell, sell!

Rather than having people ask questions about the project as a group, what followed were breakout sessions at the back of the room where you could talk to representatives from the Forest Service, Ascent Environmental, the SE Group and Squaw Valley about different elements of the project or the approval process. Although this certainly saved time, it made it difficult to share information.

Lastly there was the public comment period, which was limited to only comments about the scope of the environmental review. Approximately 9 individuals commented publicly at the afternoon session and 4 individuals at the evening session. It’s not surprising that the more assertive people took time off work to attend the first meeting. Many people chose to submit written comments instead, as they needed more time to state things than 3 minutes at the podium would allow.

Here’s a summary of what people were thinking:

• The Forest Service does recognize that the gondola does indeed pass through the designated boundary of the Granite Chief Wilderness. There’s also plenty of backpedaling about private property rights superseding the wilderness designation. I find myself wondering why my local homeowner’s association has more power to protect the “greater good of the community” than the amount of power the USFS and Congress has to protect our wilderness. Odd, isn’t it?

• This would be a perfect time for the Tahoe National Forest to make this case the poster child for why wilderness protections need to be expanded now. Instead, it looks like they are willing to let it become the precedent that says that the wilderness designation does not matter.

White Wolf owner Troy Caldwell and TNF Supervisor Eli Ilano buddy it up in the back row at the presentation.

White Wolf owner Troy Caldwell and TNF Supervisor Eli Ilano buddy it up in the back row at the presentation.

• The wilderness designation is sacred and cannot be taken lightly. It is a multigenerational issue as our decisions now will affect generations to come. Wilderness or not, the idea of building a highly industrialized and mechanized system of transportation along the crest of the Sierra is just wrong.

• Although the current owner of the land in question, Troy Caldwell, is not interested in selling that land to the federal government – a future owner of that property might want to do so. But if the development is allowed, that all becomes a moot point.

• There’s huge questions about the view sheds within the Alpine Meadows area. The headline picture on this story is just the start. Similarly terrible views will be propagated by the project in the Buttress zone near the parking lot and of the base station located right in front of the Sun Deck at Alpine Meadows.

The viewshed from the deck of the Alpine Meadows lodge...ouch. Another insult from Squaw Valley...

The viewshed from the deck of the Alpine Meadows lodge…ouch. Another insult from Squaw Valley…

• Although the Base To Base gondola is being treated as an individual project, it is not. Clearly there are several related projects, all in various stages of approval. Nobody is buying the argument that the gondola is simply being built to reduce traffic on Alpine Meadows Road. It is closely connected to the Village project, and likely exists only because of the Village project. The proposed Rollers chair is also dependent on the gondola project. Troy Caldwell’s second White Wolf Chair would also be dependent on the gondola project. Then there’s the first White Wolf chairlift, yet to be completed…and Troy’s elite 38 home development…and don’t forget about the proposed Alpine Sierra subdivision. Cumulative impacts…we all need to shout STOP or at least SLOW DOWN! One commenter noted that the Alpine Meadows General Plan had not been updated since 1960. It’s time to do that before things get crazy.

• Several people took issue with the idea that SE Group will be overseeing the environmental study of a project put together by the very same SE Group for SVSH. We agree. A neutral party is needed. There was a day and a time where the USFS was neutral…

• One commenter suggested that we all needed to “trust the process”, and that the review process would result in something everyone could support. Right…

• Although all of the early presentations by Andy Wirth and Troy Caldwell insisted that construction would be done without roads, one construction road is very visible on the latest maps. Depending on whom you talked to today, that road was everything from a full on construction road to a single track path with supplies being hauled in by burros and bicycles.

• Not only would there be a ton of helicopter noise associated with constructing the gondola, that noise would continue. Plans call for helicopters to be used for servicing and supplying the gondola and Gazex system.



Most of the bad ju-ju regarding the current proposal for the Base To Base gondola starts with the placement of the Alpine Meadows mid station on that corner of Forest Service land right next to the Granite Chief Wilderness. Although they Forest Service has waffled about their ability to protect the part of the Wilderness located on Troy’s property, they do have the right to call the shots on their own property. It’s the SE Group that chose the current location for the gondola. It seems unlikely that they will take it upon themselves to insist on a better option in the EIS.

So to that USFS “wilderness specialist” that I put on the spot at the meeting – this is your chance to be the hero and actually protect the Granite Chief Wilderness. Simply rejecting the location of the mid-station near the Buttress would change everything, making the rest of the argument about the Granite Chief boundary a moot point. If Troy Caldwell doesn’t want the gondola to traverse lower through his property, as it should, then maybe that kills the project, as it should.

The comment period on the scope of the Placer County draft EIR is over on May 23, 2016. Comments may be emailed to Documents relating to the Placer County environmental study can be located at

Placer County expects to finish the draft EIR by mid winter of 2017 (based on an estimate of “a couple of months earlier than the USFS draft EIS”).

The comment period on the scope of the Tahoe National Forest draft EIS is over on May 31, 2016. Comments may be emailed to or submitted directly at the website below. Documents relating to the Tahoe National Forest environmental study can be located at

FullSizeRender-1024x637 (1)The Tahoe National Forest expects to finish the draft EIS by spring of 2017.

Finishing our report, the Carpenters’ Local 1789 was out again protesting Squaw Valley’s refusal to commit to union labor for their proposed projects. The imagery is quite prophetic for the future of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows if we don’t stand up to big money.

New Plan is Same Old 4/6/16

New post on

Meet The New Plan, The Same As The Old Plan
by Mark

A monstrous looking building proposed for the Village at Squaw Valley? We think so...

A monstrous looking building proposed for the Village at Squaw Valley? We think so...

The proposed Village At Squaw Valley project is in the news again. Last week, the Placer County Planning Department published the newly revised specific plan for the project, dated April of 2016. Unfortunately, the new plan is pretty much identical to the last plan, released in April of last year. It’s a behemoth of a plan that has received widespread opposition within the North Lake Tahoe community.

“The latest version of proposed development in Squaw Valley is a matter of ‘meet the new plan; same as the old plan.’ It’s still a blueprint for disaster that threatens everything we love about the Tahoe Sierra.” – Tom Mooers, Sierra Watch

The newly revised plan still calls for:

1547 bedrooms (no change)
A maximum building height of 108 feet (no change)
A 90,000 square foot indoor water park (no change)
Would add an estimated 8,000 new car trips daily into the Tahoe basin
Traffic jams on 89 have been an issue on many busy days this winter.
Traffic jams on 89 have been an issue on many busy days this winter.

So what revisions were made? In reading the 300 page “red line” version to identify changes, the majority of the changes reflect minor cosmetic changes agreed to by the Squaw Valley Design Review Committee last fall. The changes do nothing to address the real concerns noted in the Draft Environmental Impact Report last May. The DEIR identified 23 different “significant and unavoidable impacts” to the North Lake Tahoe region. The most recent changes are the equivalent of applying a piece of Hello Kitty duct tape to repair a bursting dam.

There were more than 350 public responses to the DEIR for the Village at Squaw Valley project. More than 95% of those responses raised serious concerns about the impacts of the project: Increased traffic, destruction of the viewshed, availability of water, increased noise and light, and the general scale of the project. The opposition did not come from just a bunch of whack-a-doodle environmentalists. The letters were representative of the entire northern state of California and Nevada. Concerns about the scale of the project were also raised by local businesses and government agencies, including the Town of Truckee, the US Forest Service and the California Highway Patrol.

More recently, 50 local businesses joined together to write a letter expressing their concerns about how the project would affect local businesses that are not a part of the village. While there could be some positive spillover from the increased number of visitors to the area, there’s very realistic concerns about the possible gridlock of traffic and other impacts to the town of Truckee and North Lake Tahoe communities.

“Squaw Valley should be the kind of place where we introduce our kids to the wild wonders of the Great Outdoors, not funnel them inside for the artificial amusements of a big box water park.” – Tom Mooers, Sierra Watch

Although Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth has attempted to invoke the posthumous approval of John Muir, and repeatedly given the message “we are listening”, it’s clear that KSL Capital and Squaw Valley’s true motivation is profit potential. Unfortunately, it looks like Placer County is getting ready to also give a rubber stamp of approval.

What Are The Next Steps?
The final Environmental Impact Report for the Village At Squaw Valley project is expected to be released in the very near future, as it was expected to be released in April. That will trigger a new 30 day comment period. After that, the project will be presented to Placer County supervisors for their approval.

Until then, it’s critical that we continue to let the Placer County supervisors know that we care about the future of not only Squaw Valley, but also the entire North Lake Tahoe region. Squawsticker_2015_Skier-300x161Our friends at Sierra Watch have made this ultra easy with a form on

Write a strong letter to the Board of Supervisors in 3 easy steps.

. It is easy to fill out and offers some reminders about the most important issues that surround the proposal. We think the message should be clear that the county should reject the project and ask Squaw Valley and KSL Capital to start from scratch and work with the community to come up with a plan everyone can live with.

You can also create your own letter from scratch and send it to:

Placer County Board of Supervisors
175 Fulweiler Ave
Auburn, CA, 95603
You can also send your letter via email to
Keep Squaw True – Keep Tahoe True

Interstate 80 Work Closure 3/16/16

Newcastle Road Overcrossing Vertical Lift Construction Rescheduled

NEWCASTLE – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is alerting motorists and community residents that the construction dates for the vertical lifting of the Newcastle Road overcrossing bridge structure over Interstate 80 (I-80) in south Placer County have been changed. The Newcastle Road overcrossing closure will now begin on Monday, March 28 and continue until Thursday, April 14. Additionally, Interstate 80 will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Mar. 30 and again on Thursday, Mar. 31 between the Highway 193 interchange and Sierra College Boulevard. Motorists will utilize an eight-mile detour on Taylor Road through south Placer County.

The Newcastle Road overcrossing is the last structure to be lifted as part of the “Raise80” project, which is increasing the vertical clearance of nine freeway overcrossings on I-80 in south Placer County. Contractors are currently working to prepare the overcrossing for raising the bridge structure. Work to lower I-80 under the Newcastle Union Pacific Railroad trestle to achieve the required vertical clearance is anticipated to begin in late April or early May.

The nine overpass structures being raised on I-80 are between Magra Road and Loomis in Placer County. Seven of the structures will have the bridge deck raised approximately two feet, and two of the structures will have the roadway lowered to achieve the necessary clearance. When complete, all structures will meet today’s 16 feet, 6 inches federal clearance standards for high-profile vehicles and national defense, eliminating the need for most high-profile vehicles to use local roads as detours. is the central source for information about construction details, alternate routes, detours, maps and project updates. Motorists can also sign up for project alerts on the website as weather or other unexpected events may prolong the work or cause construction activities to be rescheduled.

USFS Wes Guthrie in fatal accident 3/2/16

Courtesy of the Auburn Journal

“No one should lose their kids.” Brian Guthrie’s son, Wes, died Thursday in a crash that he was still trying to fathom as he spoke Friday of a loss that stretched beyond family to the people the 32-year-old forester worked with in the Tahoe National Forest.

The elder Guthrie described his son as “a great kid” who loved being outdoors and grew up around the logging industry in the Foresthill area.

Guthrie, a Placer High and Humboldt State University graduate, was a six-year Forest Service employee. Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano issued a statement Friday on the sudden loss.

“Wes was a top-notch professional and a wonderful member of the Forest Service family – he will be missed,” Ilano said.

In Thursday’s crash, one driver was barely able to avoid a serious crash as an out-of-control pickup and trailer carrying a tractor backhoe approached.

Wes Guthrie was the next driver on the road.

The trailer and backhoe overturned onto Guthrie’s pickup. An Auburn resident, Guthrie was returning home to his wife and two young children from working in the Yuba River area. The California Highway Patrol reported that he died at the scene of the Highway 49 crash, north of Nevada City.

The driver of the out-of-control pickup – Terry Cordell, 58, of Newcastle – was uninjured.

Officer Greg Tassone said that the trailer and backhoe overturned fully onto the Guthrie pickup. Guthrie was the lone occupant.

The crash took place at 6:10 p.m. Thursday, near Nishinam Gulch Road, about 5 miles northwest of Nevada City.

According to the Highway Patrol, Cordell was driving a Ford F-350 pickup north on Highway 49 on a downhill section approaching the South Yuba River. He was hauling a large, double-axle gooseneck trailer carrying a construction tractor-backhoe, Tassone said.

Andrew Zwolinski was the driver of the first vehicle, the one that barely got by. The Highway Patrol said the 32-year-old Nevada City resident was uninjured after seeing the trailer overturning into his lane and accelerating. Zwolinski’s vehicle was struck in the rear but otherwise made it past the trailer.

Cordell’s pickup remained largely upright after the backhoe fell off. A passenger in the Cordell vehicle, 21-year-old Martin Tyler of Newcastle, was also uninjured.

The Highway Patrol reported that Cordell is suspected of driving at an unsafe speed for the load he was hauling and the downward grade of the roadway.

“Due to the large size of his vehicles and their load, combined with the excessive speed, Cordell lost control,” Tassone said….

No John Muir 2/17/16

Defending John Muir’s Legacy

NoMuirWe received a copy of an email this week, and we’re happy to publish it here. In a nutshell, the Sierra Club comes forward with their thoughts about the proposed developments at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, and about Andy Wirth’s use of John Muir in support of his development plans :

Subject: John Muir and your proposed over-development of Squaw Valley

Dear Mr. Wirth:

You invoke the legacy of John Muir as you pursue destruction of his beloved Sierra, and we are asking you to stop.

Sierra Club does not own a copyright on John Muir; his legacy is shared by all. But we do celebrate his role as a founder of Sierra Club and feel a sense of responsibility to ensure the integrity of his name.

The1 latest edition of Squaw magazine begins with an open letter in which you repeatedly quote Muir and seek to wrap yourself in his legacy. But the magazine goes on to tout your proposal to mechanize the wilderness – with a gondola through land federally designated as Granite Chief Wilderness.

We understand the gondola as only one of your destructive proposals; you also seek entitlements to urbanize Tahoe’s Squaw Valley with a series of ten-story tall highrises and, amazingly, a massive indoor water park.

You insist on seeking to associate yourself with John Muir when, clearly, your development schemes represent the misguided destruction he fought to keep from diminishing the irreplaceable value of our namesake mountain range, Muir’s beloved Sierra.

Local Sierra Club representatives have already joined Sierra Watch and others to ask you to pull your proposed gondola from the wilderness and have urged decision-makers to deny approval of your highrises.

If you continue to pursue those projects, we ask that you, at least, stop invoking the name of John Muir as if he were on your side. He’s not.


Bruce Hamilton
Deputy Executive Director
Sierra Club
San Francisco, Calif.
Bravo Mr. Hamilton. Thanks for taking a stand.

Here’s the page mentioned in the November 2015 issue.


1 We changed this word from “In” to “The” as it made better sense. Just being transparent about that one change. We make little mistakes like that too.

Village at Squaw Valley Project 12/9/15

A Challenge To The Notion That The Community Supports The Village At Squaw Valley Project.

Chase Schweitzer and Isaac Silverman of Keep Squaw True visited the Placer County supervisor this week to deliver a message that the community does not necessarily support the VSV project.

Chase Schweitzer and Isaac Silverman of Keep Squaw True visited the Placer County supervisor this week to deliver a message that the community does not necessarily support the VSV project.

We’ve written a number of articles over the last few months noting that Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth and Squaw Valley Ski Holdings are trying to create the impression that the community supports the proposed Village at Squaw Valley project. It certainly seems like an odd statement to be made after nearly 350 people and agencies questioned the project after the draft Environmental Impact Report was released this summer. It’s the same company that spent roughly $800,000 fighting the community over the incorporation of Squaw Valley.

With the demise of the incorporation proposal this month, there were questions about who might fill the void left in the fight for local control. Andy Wirth even challenged people to start working together to arrive at a solution. Thanks to the efforts of Sierra Watch’s “Keep Squaw True” campaign, that very thing is happening.

Chase Schweitzer, spokesperson for the “Keep Squaw True” movement, delivered a letter to the Placer County Board of Supervisors this week that delivered a clear message that the community does not support the plan, It requested that Placer County officials deny the application from SVSH. The letter was signed not only by leaders from Sierra Watch, it was also signed by 40 other local businesses and groups that have concerns about the proposed project. We are certain that there are many other businesses that would have signed on given the opportunity. Kudos to Sierra Watch and Keep Squaw True for their diligence in protecting the North Lake Tahoe region.

We also have complete respect for these businesses, and the many others we know, such as the sponsors, that are willing to stand up for what is best for the entire community and the future of the region.

Here’s the letter in its entirety:


Dear Placer County Board of Supervisors:

We are local businesses and non-profit organizations writing to encourage responsible decision-making for Squaw Valley and the Tahoe-Truckee region. Each of us shares a deep commitment to the natural resources, recreational opportunities, local businesses, and visitor experience that define life in North Lake Tahoe.

Those values, however, are at risk.

KSL Capital Partners is proposing development in Squaw Valley of a size, scale, and scope North Lake Tahoe has never seen.

Their application to Placer County asks for entitlements to develop more than 1,500 bedrooms and the equivalent of four city blocks of 100-foot tall buildings − as well as a 90,000 square foot indoor amusement park with fake rivers, waterslides, an arcade, indoor skydiving, and more.

All told, the project is so big, it would take 25 years to complete.

Squaw Valley is not an island; it’s an integral part of the greater North Lake Tahoe community, economy, culture, and environment. And any development approved for Squaw Valley would impact the entire region:

KSL’s proposal would have unacceptable impacts on our natural resources, including Squaw Creek, Granite Chief Wilderness, our starry night sky, and even the clarity of Lake Tahoe itself.
Proposed development seeks to funnel visitors indoors− to an indoor water park designed to “compete with the Lake”, instead of celebrating and respecting the region’s greatest asset: the great outdoors.
Local businesses, many of which already struggle to survive slow winters and ongoing drought, would be eclipsed by 300,000 square feet of new commercial development.
And the famed Tahoe visitor experience would diminish under the weight of new highrises and the estimated 8,000 new daily car trips they would add to our region’s roads each summer Sunday.
Our opposition to KSL’s proposal is echoed by hundreds of comment letters submitted to Placer County in response to the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report. Of the 338 comment letters submitted by local jurisdictions, regulatory agencies, private organizations, and individual citizens, nearly all − 97% − expressed either outright opposition to KSL’s proposal, pointed out flaws in the environmental analysis, or both.

Those letters represent a widespread understanding of what’s at stake here in North Lake Tahoe and, also, a deep commitment to securing a better outcome.

We do not oppose all development. But the question before us is: do we want this development? Our answer is no.

We urge the Placer County Board of Supervisors to reject KSL’s proposed development and, instead, encourage landowners and the community to work together to create a blueprint that makes sense for Squaw, Tahoe, and beyond.


Tom Mooers, Sierra Watch-                                                                                   Sally Brew, Friends Of Squaw Valley                                                                       Dax Willard, Willards Sport Shop
Herb Manning, Granite Chief Sports
Bobby Habeger, Tahoe Central Market
Judy Carini, Carini Constrruction
Stephen Silveira, Alpine Home
Peter Van Zant, Sierra Nevada Alliance
Robin Sills and Ed Cole, Christy Hill
Harry King, Tahoe Eco Sports
Christa Finn, The Spice Cafe
Candi Wickman, Cabin Fever
Mike Akay. Tahoe Coty Chocolates
Paco Linsay, Paco’s Truckee Bike and Ski
Dana Burley, Totally Board
Fred Wickman, Tahoe Furniture Company
Susan Gearhart, Friends Of The West Shore
Carolyn Nixon, The Robin’s Nest
Carol Piechocinski, Eddy Bowl
Greg Green, Steamers
Lindy Kramer, The Tree House
Don Hotaling, Tahoe Bike & Ski
Virginia Zavala, Jackpot Vintage
Sarah Hughes, Well Being
Richard Smith, Sierra Shirts & Shades
Sandy Tibbles, Scraps Dog Bakery
Heather Solomon, Pass It On
Susan Gray, Ruffles and Rednecks
Sara and Steven Hanson, Video Stop
Lauren John Calhoun, SiPs
Jaclyn Woznicki, Truck Show
Ariana Love, Mountain Kids
Lorraine Tarantino, Alpine Shipping & Packing
Mike, Preaseau, Cooking Gallery
Karan Vincent, Flower Power
Aurelie Martin-Chiari, Kitsch
Leanne Atwater, Thrill Of The Find
Allí Schultz, Nomad boutique
Jake Zender, Split Rock Music
John Chapman, The Soul House Project
Jack Doran, Front Porch
Sarah Thayer, Shredhead Printing

Free Ski For Tahoe Plates 11/4/15

El Niño Is Coming: Buy A Tahoe License Plate And Ski For Free

“Plates for Powder” program returns for 2015/16 season
TAHOE CITY, Calif. and INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – November 2, 2015 – With predictions for the biggest winter in over a decade, now is the time to buy a Tahoe license plate so you can ski for free in Tahoe. The popular “Plates for Powder” program is back, and once again offers individuals who purchase a new Lake Tahoe license plate in either California or Nevada two free lift tickets to one of 12 Tahoe resorts participating in the program.

“Snow is back in the forecast in Tahoe,” said Amy Berry, CEO of the Tahoe Fund. “Thanks to the generosity of the resorts in Tahoe, you can now take advantage of these conditions with free lift tickets while helping Tahoe’s environment.”

Plate sales and renewal fees generate proceeds that go directly to the California Tahoe Conservancy and Nevada Division of State Lands to fund hiking and biking trails and watershed restoration projects. The Tahoe Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to raising money for environmental improvement projects that support lake clarity, recreation and stewardship in the Tahoe Basin, is organizing the program on behalf of the public agencies.

“Tahoe plates support the work we do to restore lake clarity and improve recreation around Lake Tahoe,” said Patrick Wright, Executive Director of the California Tahoe Conservancy. “We are so thankful to the resorts for their partnership in making this very popular program happen again this year.”

The resorts participating in the promotion include Diamond Peak, Heavenly Valley, Homewood Mountain Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, Northstar California, Royal Gorge Cross Country, Sierra at Tahoe, Squaw Valley|Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl, Tahoe Cross Country and Tahoe Donner.

Information on how to purchase a plate and redeem free tickets is available at TahoePlates. The promotion is available from now until April 1. Some restrictions apply.

Olympic Valley Looks Good 11/4/15

Incorporate Olympic Valley: State Controller Review Shows The Incorporation Is Financially Viable
by Mark

Incorporate Olympic Valley board members had plenty to smile about

Incorporate Olympic Valley board members had plenty to smile about

Incorporate Olympic Valley board members had plenty to smile about at last night’s IOV monthly meeting.

The numbers have been crunched and the news is looking very good if you are in favor of local control and self determination. At last night’s IOV monthly community meeting, the numbers are showing that the new town of Olympic Valley is most certainly financially viable.

It’s been a long three years of “David vs Goliath” battle over the incorporation of Olympic Valley. The opponents to the movement have continued to throw up obstacles thorough the process. The most recent obstacle was the release of the draft Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis. The study, produced by RSG, was released by the Placer County Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) in July – and it surprised many by coming to a conclusion that the incorporation may not be fiscally viable.

Fortunately, the LAFCO guidelines allows for CFA documents to be reviewed by the State Controller’s office. That review was requested in August, at a cost of $125,000, which was funded fully by Incorporate Olympic Valley. After a 45 day extensive audit, the State Controller’s Office (SCO) released their findings last week. IOV had requested that the SCO review 31 different issues with the draft CFA, claiming it was flawed. When the work was done, SCO sided favorably with IOV on 18 of 31 of the issues. Unfortunately, the state report did not include inputing RSG’s errors into the CFA with correct numbers and an assessment of viability.

Over the last week, IOV’s muncipal finance expert and former city manager, Tom Sinclair, has been crunching the numbers and the new town is looking to be very prosperable.. Over a 10 year period, the new town of Olympic Valley has the capability of generating a reserve fund in excess of $15 million – without the addition of any new taxes. That’s a far different story that the millions of dollars in losses projected by RSG, in their draft CFA,, due to the 18 separate errors made in their draft CFA.

A quick graph that summarizes income versus expenditures, resulting in a large reserve built over 10 years for Olympic Valley.

A quick graph that summarizes income versus expenditures, resulting in a large reserve built over 10 years for Olympic Valley.

IOV officials sent a letter to LAFCO Executive Officer Kris Berry requesting that RSG make the necessary adjustment to the 18 items noted as erraneous by the State Controller’s office in their review. At last night’s meeting, IOV Chairperson Fred Ilfeld offered a quick synopsis of some of the most important changes at tonight’s meeting:

• The Draft CFA should include Olympic Valley’s proportionate share of the cost of North Lake Tahoe regional marketing, transportation and infrastructure improvement services in the calculation of property tax revenue to be transferred to the Town. This adjustment would bring $12 million of additional revenue to OV over ten years, and also result in $7 million dollars in additional expenses. The net gain is $5 million over 10 years. (Issue #2)

• The Draft CFA should use future residential development sales values and resulting assessed values as reported by the Village at Squaw Valley developer. Numbers recently released by the Squaw Valley Public Services District show that the CFA grossly understates the future assessed values in OV. The adjusted expected assessment values increase revenues by $2.7 million over 10 years. (Issue #6)

• The Draft CFA should use existing law enforcement levels of service, adjusted by an annual CPI factor as the basis for Town law enforcement costs. RSG suggests much more law enforcement for OV than what is currently being provided by Placer County. Following the SCO recommendation, approximately $2.7 million less can be spent on law enforcement over 10 years. (Issue #15)

• The Draft CFA should match future (personnel) service levels with existing service levels. The “cost allocation for O/H and Admin” factor should be deleted from the Community Development Department expenditures. RSG suggested nearly 3 times more staffing than what is currently offered by the County. Following the SCO recommendation, approximately $1.7 million can be saved over 10 years. (Issue #16)

The conclusions drawn by the State Controllers Office are quite different that the conclusion reached by Andy Wirth regarding the draft CFA in August.

There aren’t enough pencils and erasers in the world to make the numbers work.” — Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley CEO, following the initial release of the draft Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis

It’s clear that Incorporate Olympic Valley Officials have done their homework in making sure that in following the State Controllers Office guidelines, the town of Olympic Valley will be financially viable. The full details of the their findings are detailed in their letter to LAFCO this week. We applaud their diligence.

In contrast, Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth, and incorporation opponents Save Olympic Valley, quickly used the State Controllers Office report to quickly claim victory in the battle over incorporation. Less than one day after the SCO report was released, an article appeared in Rocklin Today declaring that SCO had shown that incorporation was not financially feasible. Andy Wirth attempted to “dumb it down” for readers:

“IOV proponents requested and paid for the review because they argued that the CFA was deeply flawed. We now know their belief was incorrect because the State Controller validated most of the work performed by RSG Consulting.” Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley CEO, in Rocklin Today

It appears that Wirth didn’t spend enough time on his homework.

The Next Steps
Incorporate Olympic Valley officials are unsure of how long it may take to get the draft CFA updated with the new numbers. IOV consultant Steve Hoch suggested that “we’re entering uncharted territory.” While other agencies have utilized the State Controller review process, it appears that few, if any, have resulted in such substantiative changes to a CFA document. The required revenue neutrality negotiations with Placer county cannot begin until the CFA is corrected.

Placer County LAFCO, at the insistence of opponents, have requireded that Incorporate Olympic Valley pay the cost for a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR),as part of the incorporation process. It does seem odd that a townincorporation will require a full EIR, even though not a shovel of earth will be turned, nor a stream diverted, or a tree removed. It just seems to be another financial hurdle putin place by those opposed to the incorporation.

The total cost of the EIR plus retaining experts is expected to reach over $200,000. That’s unfortunate, as IOV just paid nearly the same amount for the CFA from RSG ($85K) and the review of the flawed CFA by the SCO ($125K). While they have had some very generous donations over the last three years, the fundraising needs to really kick into high gear now. IOV Chair Fred Ilfeld noted that “it’s time for the community to step forward with their checkbooks.”

“An investment of $250,00 today will bring back millions of dollars directly to the community over the next 10 years – money that would otherwise be lost to Placer County.” – Tuck Wilson, Squaw Valley homeowner

IOV Boardmember Lisa Cardin noted that the Poulsen and Cushing families faced equally great hurdles when it came to making their dreams come to reality in the valley.

“We owe it to our forefathers to protect what they started. The $250,000 we need now is just a drop in the bucket compared to the $750,000 already spent by Squaw Valley to stop the incorporation.” – Lisa Cardin, IOV boardmember

We encourage you to consider supporting the effort to incorporate the town of Olympic Valley. We’ve seen time and time again that we cannot leave the future of Lake Tahoe to KSL Capital and Placer County. We believe that we need local people to be in control over what the future of the region looks like. More information about donating or volunteering time to the Incorporate Olympic Valley movement can be found at the IOV website.

Page 1 of 3
1 2 3