Kirkwood ski resort facing fines over reported wetlands contamination
KIRKWOOD, Calif. — Kirkwood Mountain Resort may face stiff fines after an anonymous complaint called attention to asphalt road grindings deposited around Kirkwood Creek due to snow plowing over the winter, according to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The Vail Resorts-owned ski destination is in the process of cleaning up the mess.
Public documents from the water board reveal that staff inspected the resort on April 27 and “confirmed that asphalt grindings were widely deposited outside of the parking lots as a result of snow removal operations.”
The grindings were said to have been used “to resurface resort parking lots.”
In a May 6 letter to Vail Resorts, the inspectors expressed concerns about the impact the asphalt would have on the surface and ground water — and also charged the company with a Clean Water Act violation.
Over the course of the investigation, according to the water board, it was revealed that for 49 days crews removed snow from the parking lots with plows and blowers, ultimately spreading the asphalt onto wetlands around the Kirkwood Creek.
The extent of the impact on the water quality has not yet been released.
“It looked like a black snow field. Actually under that snow field is a running stream or a highly sensitive meadow area,” Ryan Hanson, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife warden and leader of the cleanup team, told CBS Sacramento — the news source that originally broke the story on Aug. 23.
According to water board officials, roughly 700 cubic yards of material have been collected.
Kirkwood responded to specific questions on the incident with a prepared statement.
“Since receiving this notice, we have been coordinating closely with the Water Quality Board and other agencies to conduct a site assessment and will be further remediating any impacts to the local environment as necessary based on that assessment,” reads the statement. “Kirkwood takes very seriously our role in acting responsibly to protect the environment and will be taking steps to ensure that we protect our waterways from these types of issues.”
A fine for the violation will be determined once the cleanup is completed, but according to the initial letter sent by the water board, penalties could reach $10,000 for each day of the violation.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A federal agency is removing a partially sunken boat this week after it received a report it may be leaking fluid into Lake Tahoe.