A proposed gondola lift connecting Squaw Valley to Alpine Meadows has been the at the center of contention by locals over various issues. The new lift, called the California express, seeks to unite the two resorts for the first time, eliminating completely the tough decision of whether to go to one resort or the other.
People opposing the idea of the gondola are worried about about its environmental impact, traffic, and avalanche mitigation noise. According to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a handful of residents are worried about the gondola encroaching upon the Granite Chief Wilderness, an area made into wilderness to protect against development. Some are concerned about increased levels of traffic in an area that is already congested. The last concern is regarding the increased noise from avalanche mitigation work using Gazex blasts, which is louder than traditional avalanche bombs.
Squaw Valley has made substantial steps towards addressing the concerns raised by the public. The resort has stated that the combination of the 6,000 acres, which constitutes both resorts, will significantly reduce the use of car or shuttle bus. This will help ease the traffic issue and reduce the local carbon footprint. The gondola will run adjacent to the wilderness area and would measure 11,300 feet with only 2,300 feet over NFS land. Squaw has even gone beyond that, according to this Change Petition, they have limited the number and height of lift towers and eliminated access roads needed to be built using helicopters. Due to this, the public has been very positive and 7,000 people have signed the petition in support of the new lift.
Don’t know which side or argument to agree with or want to look more into the issues? Check out the United States Forest Service environmental impact report, or Squaw Valley’s informational page. Both are rife with potential answers to your questions! Or if you would like your voice to be heard, check out the Change Petition.