Although Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows may never actually lay claim to being the largest resort in North America, it may be able to lay claim to generating the most widely spread opposition to its plans.

In early July, a new organization, the Granite Chief Wilderness Protection League, activated its website and Facebook page with a goal of protecting the Granite Chief Wilderness area. The proposed path of the gondola travels through the designated boundary of the wilderness area.


Since purchasing Squaw Valley in 2010, and Alpine Meadows the following year, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and KSL Capital Partners have excelled in getting the community to rally together in response to development plans that have been proposed. These include: Friends of Squaw Valley, whose goal is making the village development something we can all live with; Incorporate Olympic Valley, whose goal is to offer more local control by incorporating the town of Olympic Valley; Keep Squaw True, an outreach movement of Sierra Watch, whose goal is to come up with a development plan that is appropriate for the area and reduces environmental impacts in the entire North Tahoe area; and Friends of Alpine Meadows, whose goal is to “Keep Alpine Alpine.”

With the creation of the new Granite Chief group, there are now at least five groups looking to have a say in what happens to the Squaw and Alpine communities. That in itself says a lot.

Ultimately, we expect that Squaw Valley will have no trouble getting Chad and Julie from Muskogee to sign on to support the gondola project. They’re super stoked to be able to post on Snapchat that they rode 28 lifts during their one-week stay at SquawPine. They won’t give a thought about how the cultures of the two mountains were affected by the merger, nor will they care that the gondola will be built through the Granite Chief Wilderness area, which they thought was located in Pennsylvania. But now they can ski those easy groomers over at Alpine, and still get back for a GNAR burger for lunch in the village.

Does it matter how many people Squaw Valley signs on as supporters? We think it doesn’t. Ultimately, it took thousands of people hundreds of years to recognize that our environmental resources need protection from the hands of those that are looking to make a quick buck. It has taken years of work by our legislatures, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, and many other groups and individual activists to create designations like our state and national parks and wilderness areas. Imagine where we would be in the Lake Tahoe region if the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency had not come into being in 1969?

~ Mark Fisher, who has been skiing Alpine Meadows since 1975, started Unofficial Alpine in 2008. This article was excerpted from a blog post that was originally published on on July 5.


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