My Turn: Plans dont improve Royal Gorge
February 21, 2008
I finally got a look at a hard copy map of the developers plans for Royal Gorge on Donner Summit. I was appalled and disgusted. I had naively hoped for some consciousness from the new stewards of this precious landscape, but was none the less shocked at the arrogance, greed and sense of entitlement displayed by the heir to the throne of Foster City.The developers plan calls for almost 1,000 condos. Thats more than Squaw Valley and Northstar combined. And that doesnt take into account the hotels, lodges, restaurants, shopping malls, maintenance facilities, employee housing, endless subdivisions and miles upon miles of black pavement.The new owners claim that they have to develop Royal Gorge or it will die, but even a precursory glance at their plan proves that they have no interest in saving this magnificent ski area. The sad truth is self-evident. Their main goal remains, and has always been, to maximize profit at the expense of the land.Gentlemen, since a glance at your plans to save Donner Summit proves that you are not masters in the art of subtlety, let me spell this out in plain English so that you, and everyone else, might understand it: You are not going to improve the quality of life on Donner Summit, you are going to destroy it. You will not build conservation communities, you will build soulless bands of condo-boxes and mini-malls. You will build no eco-villages, but you will eliminate primeval forests, dump even more sewage into the Yuba River and leave an ancient Summit ecosystem decimated forever.Please stop insulting us with your dishonest propaganda, the attempted greenwashing of this, your personal ecological disaster. To make way for your conservation camps, hundreds of thousands of trees will be clear-cut, many of them standing tall before the birth of our nation. Your green buildings will be cookie-cutter copies of the abominations that mar the skylines at Squaw and Northstar, with their cheesy faux European architectural motifs super-glued onto their facades. Your eco-villages will bury the living soil beneath a million tons of concrete and asphalt.The developers ethics would have been welcomed in the Middle Ages when humans had to raise walls against the cold outside and to keep the wild beasts at bay. The development ethos in which the new owners of Royal Gorge were raised was proper and noble in its time, but the times, as they always do, have changed.In that past, people needed protection from the forest. Today, the forest needs protection from us. It doesnt matter how pretty or innocuous the names you assign your developments; they erase forests and subjugate the land forever. These mega-developments are projects conceived by men who have lost their souls.There is now no shortage of housing in the Tahoe region. The housing crisis, brought about by fraud perpetrated by a lending community motivated by greed, appears to have resulted in a global economic slowdown. We can now clearly see how the greed of a few can affect the well being of us all.Royal Gorge is the best cross-country ski resort in the nation, quite possibly in the world. You have a one-of-a-kind, globally unique, ongoing concern, with a staff whose courtesy and professionalism is unmatched in the industry. And you cant figure out how to make it profitable? If you dont have the necessary business skills to operate a successful cross-country ski resort, then please, pass it on to those that do.The courage of the simple mountain folk, hand in hand with the river people from beyond, are all that stand between the snarling bulldozers and the primeval forest at their backs. As ancient grandfather trees stand in silent witness, a cry rises from the hearts of the people who stare down the beast: This well defend.If you developers persist in valuing gold over nature, if you still the small voice of conscience within you, then this vision may come true: Your corpulent stockholders struggle to their feet, bellies painfully distended by resource gluttony. They raise their flagons of light, sweet crude and in voices hoarse from revelry, proclaim as one: Hail to the New Robber Barons of the Sierra! All Hail to the New Masters of Royal Greed!Along with great privilege comes great responsibility. We need men of promise to help heal the earth, not to sharpen their silver spoons into daggers with which to tear out her very soul.Sid Cronin is a resident of Donner Summit, and is still waiting for the trees to speak to him.