Brockway Campground nixed in favor of Tahoe land sale to Forest Service | SierraSun.com

Brockway Campground nixed in favor of Tahoe land sale to Forest Service

A map showing the location of the proposed Brockway Campground in relation to local communities and recreational areas.

BROCKWAY SUMMIT, Calif. — Sierra Pacific Industries and Mountainside Partners announced Wednesday morning that SPI intends to sell a 120-acre parcel on a ridgeline above Lake Tahoe's North Shore that is proposed for development of the controversial Brockway Campground.

According to a news release on behalf of Mountainside Partners, following discussions facilitated by the California Tahoe Conservancy, SPI and the U.S. Forest Service have exchanged willing-buyer and willing-seller letters to complete the sale by the end of 2017.

Once completed, the land will reportedly become part of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit of the USFS — and thus, will be permanently protected from future development.

"We are moving forward with this sale to ensure land SPI owns within the Tahoe Basin remains accessible to the public forever," Blake Riva, managing partner of Mountainside Partners, said in a statement. "Although an improved campground is permissible under current zoning and would provide significant recreational benefits, we have listened carefully to the community and have decided that the parcel should be permanently protected through a sale to the Forest Service."

The proposed 550-site Brockway Campground has drawn heavy criticism from residents and conservation groups due to the potential for increased traffic and negative environmental impacts the project would bring to the Tahoe region.

Mountainside Partners' application for the campground will reportedly remain active while the Forest Service conducts an appraisal and other pre-acquisition activities. Upon completion of the appraisal, SPI will enter into a purchase option with the Forest Service.

SPI and Mountainside Partners will withdraw their campground development application once the land is sold, according to Wednesday's news release.

"This acquisition shows how the partnership between the California Tahoe Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service, along with Sierra Pacific Industries, can result in significant benefit to the public we serve," Jeff Marsolais, Forest Supervisor of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said in a statement. "The parcel is one of the last remaining undeveloped large parcels of private lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin and will result in a contiguous block of National Forest System Lands."

REACTION MIXED

One of the main critics of the Brockway Campground project — as well as the adjacent Martis Valley West project — is Mountain Area Preservation.

Nikki Riley, Development Director for the nonprofit, issued a statement to the Sun Wednesday, urging residents to "not celebrate yet," considering the campground's application isn't going away anytime soon.

"The public should be wary that if the Martis Valley West Project … is denied on September 13 by the Placer County Board of Supervisors, the Brockway Campground application will likely be kept open for further consideration," Riley wrote. "While we at Mountain Area Preservation … have been requesting the permanent conservation of land in the Tahoe Basin since 2014, we are staunchly opposed to the MVW project. MAP has attempted to negotiate and find common ground over the last 3 years with SPI and Mountainside, yet our input has been disregarded. We will not sit idly by while a sprawling, over scaled, environmentally destructive project receives entitlements with a thinly veiled promise of land conservation on SPI's property to the East of Highway 267…"

California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, meanwhile, issued a statement Wednesday after learning of the news, calling the pending deal "an important conservation step."

"We congratulate the parties for coming to mutually agreeable terms that will result in the permanent protection of Brockway Summit," Laird said. "Thanks to the California Tahoe Conservancy for helping to make it happen."

Darcie Goodman Collins, Executive Director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, called the news "a major win for Lake Tahoe."

"This deal preserves the large swath of forested open space, which has been used for years for low-impact outdoor recreation, and maintains the scenic beauty of Tahoe's ridgeline," she said in a statement provided to the Sierra Sun. "The League to Save Lake Tahoe has been advocating for nearly two years against proposed massive developments on this pristine ridgeline, in a remote location relative to Tahoe's communities. The construction of the Brockway camping resort complex would have set a terrible precedent, as it would have added significant traffic and related pollution to the Tahoe Basin.

"This announcement is also a win for Tahoe's regional plan, which calls for the concentration of development in the Basin's already existing town centers."

The news comes a handful of days before Mountainside Partners' also-controversial Martis Valley West development proposal goes before the Placer County Board of Supervisors at its Sept. 13 meeting at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach.

The plot of land slated for possible development with Martis Valley West is located directly next to the 120-acre plot of land where the Brockway Campground is proposed.

The difference between the two is Martis Valley West is located outside the Lake Tahoe Basin (although homes, if built there, would have lake views), whereas the other location is within the basin.