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Alpine Meadows considers PSR

TANYA CANINO, Sun News Service

ALPINE MEADOWS – Avalanche control along Alpine Meadows Road has more than one solution – but the public isn’t so sure that the Alpine Springs County Water District is looking at any other option than a proposed snow fence along the mountainside.

Letters were written and concerns were voiced Monday at the Alpine Springs County Water District Board of Directors’ meeting, causing the board to delay its decision on whether to seek funding for an avalanche control study.

“There was a strong feeling that the district had made up its mind to only do the fences,” said Tom Skjelstad, the general manager for the district. “We didn’t get our point across clearly enough.”

While the snow fencing has seemed like the best solution so far, Skjelstad said a $75,000 Project Study Report, also known as a PSR, would certainly look at all the options available for avalanche control.

“The board decided the district will send out another newsletter to the community about what a PSR would be, why we would do a PSR and possible sources of funding for it,” said Skjelstad.

The district also offered to make presentations to the seven different homeowners’ associations in the Alpine Meadows valley. Then, at its meeting Nov. 12, the board will decide whether to seek grants for the $75,000 Project Study Report.

The project study report is required before the district can apply for federal transportation grant money to fund any possible solution.

The snow fencing option could cost up to $3 million, while a snow shed proposed to protect part of Alpine Meadows Road could cost up to $4 million.

The project study report would use transportation consultants and avalanche consultants to come up with various alternatives. Skjelstad said the district hopes to be able to fund the study with grants from the Placer County Transportation Planning Authority and other sources.

Some people at the meeting questioned why the Alpine Springs County Water District was even involved in the avalanche control issue, Skjelstad said.

Alpine Meadows Road is controlled by Placer County, which contracts with Alpine Meadows Ski Area to keep the road clear of avalanche hazards. The ski area will temporarily close the road and blast the unstable slopes in order to bring down dangerous snowpacks.

Whether this is the best method of avalanche control – and the liability involved – became an issue after an avalanche set off during routine avalanche control for the road damaged a private home a couple of winters ago.

There are about 12 private homes that are within potential avalanche paths, with several having been hit by avalanches in the past.

Alpine Springs County Water District is involved in the issue because it owns part of the land above the road where the avalanches originate.

“We explained that we own the land. Just like we manage the sewer, park and fire, we manage the land,” Skjelstad said.


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