Mousehole Tunnel 8/17/16

image010Truckee “Mousehole” Pedestrian/Bike Tunnel Celebrates Completion

TRUCKEE – The Town of Truckee and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) are pleased to announce the completion of the $14 million State Route 89 Undercrossing Improvement Project, nicknamed the “Mini-Mousehole”. The tunnel structure provides a pedestrian/bicycle path through the Union Pacific railroad embankment just southeast of downtown Truckee.

Because the railroad is in continous use, the project used a unique “road header” machine to excavate the tunnel as the concrete tunnel structure was inserted into the hole dug into the railroad embankment. Over 900 cubic yards of soil and rock was removed. Portal walls, pathway paving and a Truckee Tahoe Regional Transit shelter completed the project.

The construction of the pedestrian/bicycle tunnel will not only provide a safer route for pedestrians and bicyclists along the heavily traveled Highway 89 between Truckee and Tahoe City but will encourage non-vehicle, multi-modal forms of transportation benefitting the Tahoe Basin-Truckee environment.

Please visit the Town of Truckee website at for more information and to view the time-lapse construction video of the project.

Call It Bribery 8/3/16

New post on

Squaw Valley Dangles $7.5 Million in Front of the Community
by Mark

Uncle Andy is handing out money, desperately seeking community approval for his Village plan.

Uncle Andy is handing out money, desperately seeking community approval for his Village plan.

Earlier today Squaw Valley released it’s latest and most desperate marketing ploy designed to gain approval of the proposed Village at Squaw Valley Development, the formation of the Squaw Valley Foundation. According to Squaw Valley Ski Holdings CEO Andy Wirth, the foundation would “address issues and fund environmental, transit and recreational initiatives and further land conservation and cultural preservation within Olympic Valley. Funding for the foundation would come from a 1.5% transfer tax from sales within the proposed Village at Squaw Valley specific plan. Squaw Valley estimates that the fee would generate $7.5 million, one would assume as entitlements and land are sold to developers. Another $1 million could be generated annually through real estate transfers. Here’s the kicker, the foundation, and its funding would only happen if Placer County officials approve the Village plan. No approval, no foundation, no money.

The astute reader has already noted that this announcement came just 9 days before the Placer County Planning Commission is set to discuss, and potentially approve or deny the proposal. We can’t help but wonder if Squaw Valley Ski Holdings is attempting to influence the opinion of Placer County officials, and the general public, with such a “generous” offer at this particular time. It would not even be Squaw Valley or KSL Capital’s money being used to fund the foundation. Funding would simply come from an extra 1.5% fee tacked on to the sale of each real estate transaction. That little time share unit you wanted in Shirley Canyon just got quite few thousand dollars more expensive.

We’re not quite sure what to call this latest move by Squaw CEO Andy Wirth and Squaw Valley. We’ve seen a lot of emails today, and a number of online posts that use the words “bribery”, “undue influence”, and “interfering with the public process.” A quick search of Roget’s also brings up the possible descriptors of “influence peddling”, “buying off”, “persuasion”, and “sweeteners”. We do know it’s not the first time we have seen Wirth attempt to influence public opinion.

• In November 2014, we published a report on Andy Wirth’s self-authored attempt to influence local non-profits to elicit support for the Village project.

• Similar efforts have been made by Andy and Squaw Valley to use well known local athletes to speak out in favor of the development. Most of these athletes also receive some sort of compensation or support for being the voice of Squaw Valley. Their efforts have not been very transparent.

• Squaw Valley Ski Holdings contributed more than $850,000 to the campaign to defeat the incorporation of Olympic Valley. The formation of the proposed town of Olympic Valley would have likely served the same functions as proposed for the foundation, except that representatives would have been voted in rather than hand selected by Andy and friends.

• Previous versions of the specific plan offered up to $2 million for the restoration of Squaw Creek. It’s unknown whether this would become a part of the foundation responsibilities, or if the newly set aside monies are in addition to that $2 million. We’ve said before that although the current owners of Squaw Valley are not the one that created the environmental disaster that is the Squaw Valley parking lot and the channelized Squaw Creek – they should a have keen interest in fixing the problem, without insisting that it does not happen unless the community approves a vastly over-sized development.

We hope that the community and Placer County officials can see through the latest smoke and mirrors ruse. The fact that they are offering this money at this time in the process should call their motives into question. The foundation would not be able to do that much in counteracting the 23 different “substantial and unavoidable impacts” identified in the project’s Environmental Impact Report. The foundation would focus on only Olympic Valley, but the effects of the Village at Squaw Valley proposal will reach far beyond the valley. That’s why the opposition to this plan stretches far past the local community. We encourage you to attend:

Placer County Planning Commission Meeting
August 11th, 2016 at 10:30 am
North Tahoe Events Center, Kings Beach

The folks over are Keep Squaw True are suggesting that people arrive at the meeting by 10:00 am to secure parking and seating, as a crowd is expected. Squaw Valley will seemingly stop at nothing to get approval for the behemoth known as the “Village At Squaw Valley Redevelopment Plan”. It’s not the right plan for Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, or the northern Lake Tahoe and Sierra region. The presence of the community at the meeting is the best way to ensure that Placer County is listening to the people and not just smelling the money.

Addendum: Here’s the article we actually meant to write today..

We are not alone in thinking the proposal is just a bad idea. Two more opinion pieces popped up in the Sierra Sun this week. Here’s the links:

Oh, yes, there was also one letter of support of the project. It was written by olympic skier Julia Mancuso. I’m shocked I tell ya, just shocked.

Mr. Fisher Retires 6/8/16


courtesy of Sierra Booster Newspaper

Mark Fisher, Loyalton High School science and math and 7-8 P.E. teacher, waves as he leaves the high school with a P.E. class to walk to the junior high school gymnasium.

Mark is retiring after having started teaching in Loyalton in 1986 at the junior high school where he is remembered as being a part of infamous Olympic Program. There were camping trips to Lakes Basin area, science field trips to Great America, Monterey Bay Aquarium and to the Exploratorium for a total of 12 years before the program became too expensive. Mark remembers 80 events a year either at lunch or on Friday afternoons as part of the Olympic program. Between him and fellow teacher Dan Sheridan they raised close to $1 million dollars in fundraisers and grants.

Now that the junior and high schools combined in Loyalton, Mark believes the program can not be recreated with the junior high to influenced by the high schoolers.

IMG_4658 (1)Former Prinicipal Mike Filipino calls Mark, “an outstanding teacher at the junior high who created a wonderful science curriculum.: He continued, “Mark was instrumental in keeping the Olympic program afloat and he was also excellent with computers and got that program at the junior high in place by setting a lab and figuring out what to order and then offered it as an elective.”

Once retired, Mark says he will continue to work with kids to make a difference at Project Discovery at Mt. Rose on the ropes challenge course.



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

Psychic Spring Cleaning 4/6/16

Spring is so exciting! We are coming out of the hibernating months and amping up to tackle the year.

Workouts, cleaning the home, and living a more simplistic minimal lifestyle are all on tap for this season of refreshing.

Keep in mind that it’s also a great time of year for Psychic Spring Cleaning!

Where you at in there? What attitudes or modalities are you ready to let go? What learned behavior is not serving you any longer? Do your life priorities match with your actions?

Take a look, schedule a consultation with me, and get the rest of your year into the gear you want to be turning. Let’s do this!

Fun at Tahoe Sports Hub 3/9/16

Tahoe Sports Hub: Bringing The Fun Next Weekend
by Mark
With winds, rain and lift closures today, there’s not much skiing to talk about today. For Sunday, our forecast is has been holding steady for dropping snow levels and heavy snow by tomorrow morning. We still think that operations tomorrow will quite possibly be delayed or limited for Sunday at Alpine Meadows.

So on a more positive note, we thought we should share this awesome news from our friends at the Tahoe Sports Hub:

Screen-Shot-2016-03-05-at-4.50.06-PMThe Tahoe Sports Hub is pleased to announce they are hosting a free event to thank customers for their loyalty and raise awareness for Sierra Avalanche Center. The third annual Tahoe Sports Hub customer appreciation party will take place from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 12.

Refreshments and entertainment will be provided for this free community event and the entire store will be on sale with discounts up to 70%. In addition, Tahoe Sports Hub has partnered with Sierra Avalanche Center to raise awareness and funds for avalanche safety in our community. A raffle with prize packages exceeding $3000 will take place throughout the event. All customers will receive one free raffle ticket upon arrival and can purchase additional tickets while supporting Sierra Avalanche Center. The grand prize winner will receive their choice of skis off of Tahoe Sports Hub’s well stocked ski wall.

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.

Concerns About Village 2/10/16

TRPA Notes Its Concerns Regarding The Village At Squaw Valley Project
by Mark

In some respects, it’s been a bit refreshing this season that we’ve to be able to talk about more about some excellent ski conditions and a little bit less about the proposed Village At Squaw Valley Project. We had figured that February might be a busy month for news on the project, with the release of the project’s final Environmental Impact Report. That report, and all of the drama that is expected to follow, has now been delayed until late spring of 2016.

It was an editorial that appeared in last week’s Sierra Sun that brought the Village project back to our attention. In his editorial, Sierra Watch Executive Director Tom Moore notes a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency letter itemizing their concerns to the Placer County Planning Department. He notes that TRPA has now joined nearly 350 other agencies and individuals that provided comments on the draft EIR last year.

Technically, the entire Village project, as well as all of Squaw Valley and most of Alpine Meadows, does not even fall under TRPA jurisdiction, which covers the “Tahoe Basin”. The basin is loosely defined as all watersheds that drain into Lake Tahoe, thereby affecting its clarity. The agency, created in 1969, has drawn its share of criticism for being both too restrictive and too lenient. One can only imagine the fate of the lake had TRPA not given guidance at all over the last 45 years.

In their letter to Placer County, TRPA focused their concerns only on Chapter 9 of the dEIR, which deals specifically with transportation and circulation. They note that the additional development will result in more vehicle trips and therefore more vehicle miles in the basin. Here’s a summary:

• From the data in the dEIR, TRPA calculated that there would be roughly 2700 daily vehicle trips into the basin, resulting in somewhere between 28,000 and 48,000 vehicle miles travelled in the basin daily.

• These trips would be in addition to other projects already approved or in line for approval in the basin such as the Homewood project and the Brockway Campground.

• Projects within the basin are required to mitigate the vehicle traffic and to pay an air quality mitigation fee. Since the Village project is not within the basin, but some of the traffic it will create will be in the basin, it’s unclear how the TRPA may proceed.

• TRPA suggests that significant reductions in vehicular traffic could be gained by adding additional bus runs into Squaw Valley from the basin. They also suggest the need to add incentives for people to use the alternative transportation.

While it’s great to see the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency getting involved in the Village At Squaw Valley project. We think they’re underestimating the amount of vehicular traffic the project will generate. A footnote on their letter says it all. They used the estimated traffic numbers directly from the draft Environmental Impact Report to make their calculations.

You may remember that several agencies and many individuals took issue with the traffic calculations presented in the document as being unrealistic. The traffic surveys were conducted occurred during a dry spell during one of the driest seasons on record in Tahoe, resulting in a very significant reduction in skier visits that season. Can you imagine if they had conducted that traffic survey during this season?

Kudos to Tom Mooers and Sierra Watch for reminding us that we have to stay vigilant in protecting the future of the Lake Tahoe region for everyone. The Village At Squaw Valley project and proposed Base to Base project will have far reaching impacts that we cannot afford to let happen. Here’s a link to the TRPA-letter

Modoc-Washoe Meeting 2/10/16

*Modoc-Washoe Stewardship Group Meets Feb. 25 in Cedarville*

*CEDARVILLE, *Calif. – Topics affecting natural resources on public lands
in northeast California and far northwest Nevada will be discussed, when
the Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee meets
Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Bureau of Land Management Surprise Field Station
, 602 Cressler St., in Cedarville.

The meeting, open to the public, gets underway at 9 a.m.

Agenda topics include updates from member agencies, a report on
wild horse management, a status report on rangeland monitoring on national
forest lands in the Warner Mountains and an update on the Modoc National
Forest’s Lassen 15 project.

Committee members will also discuss targeted grazing on cheat
grass in areas burned by the Coleman Fire, hear the BLM’s response to a
technical review team report on degraded sagebrush areas and discuss a
research report from Modoc County Cooperative Extension.

Public comments will be accepted at 11:30 a.m. Those unable to
attend the meeting can participate by teleconference. The toll-free phone
number is 800-857-5137, and the passcode is 66360.

The Modoc-Washoe group is part of the national Experimental
Stewardship Program, created by Congress in the Public Rangelands
Improvement Act of 1978. The program encourages rangeland management
innovation and incentives for improving conditions on public rangelands.
The Modoc-Washoe group advises the BLM’s Applegate (formerly Surprise)
Field Office and the Modoc National Forest’s Warner Mountain Ranger

The committee has diverse membership including livestock
grazing permit holders, representatives from the BLM and Forest Service,
and the California and Nevada Departments of Fish and Wildlife. Other
interests represented include the timber industry, invasive weed control
interests, resource conservation districts, NRCS, environmental and
sporting interests from California and Nevada and local government.

Avalanche Safety Info 1/13/16

courtesy of

10154191_985234430318_1395282124372177161_nOne of the fastest-growing segments of the outdoor industry is backcountry skiing. And, really, it’s not even close. With increased attention being paid to it from films, magazines, and general GoPro-related postings, there is an entire segment of the population gearing up to head out into the snowy wilderness. As with any sport, increased participation can lead to an increased risk of injury or death. And, with backcountry skiing and snowboarding, those risks are magnified greatly.

So what is an aspiring backcountry traveler to do? Well, the most important tool that one can arm themselves with is knowledge. Know Before You Go is a nationally recognized avalanche education series that seeks to equip snow-enthusiasts with the necessary tools to travel safely in the backcountry. Though certainly not comprehensive, KBYG helps users “see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how you can have fun in the mountains and avoid avalanches.”

Every year 42 people are killed by avalanches in North America. Not to mention hundreds more injured, many of them in life-altering ways. Sadly, a vast majority of these accidents are preventable, or at least avoidable. With so many people venturing into the backcountry these days, it’s even more important that you know how to safely navigate terrain, read hazards, and be able to make safe decisions.

In the spirit of avalanche safety, Granite Chief Ski & Mountain Shop, in conjunction with the Sierra Avalanche Center and Truckee/Tahoe Radio, will be hosting a Know Before You Go event in-store on Saturday, January 16th at 7 pm.The event will feature the award-winning short film from the folks at Know Before You Go, a short presentation by one of the forecasters from the Sierra Avalanche Center, and an audience Q&A to help answer all your burning questions. As with all good events, Know Before You Go at Granite Chief will have free food and beer, as well as some great raffle prizes!

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