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Royal Gorge rumors squashed

Court Leve/Sierra Sun file photoOpen space behind the Royal Gorge Lodge.
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The release of a report by the owners of Royal Gorge cross-country ski resort regarding plans for future development put rumors circulating on Donner Summit to rest … for now.

Royal Gorge owners Todd Foster and Kirk Syme hired a land planning firm to evaluate the property and environmentally sensitive areas of the 3,000-acre property on the Summit, west of Truckee. The information was included in a public input report released Aug. 25, which also includes submitted comments and development suggestions from individuals and organizations pertaining to the property’s future.

Foster and Syme purchased Royal Gorge more than a year ago, and speculation about the future of the property has been rampant on the Summit.



Martin Bern, former Serene Lakes Property Owners Association president, said the homeowner’s association “had caught wind” that the Royal Gorge property owners were trying to obtain another 320 acres of U.S. Forest Service land that runs east of Soda Springs Road.

According to the report, there was a rumor of a potential land exchange to make the Forest Service parcel private, in exchange for a private parcel somewhere else to be Forest Service land.




Joanne Roubique, with the Truckee Ranger District, said she met with Mike Livak, Royal Gorge project manager, and nothing specific was expressed about the pursuit of the Forest Service property.

“Royal Gorge is not pursuing a land swap,” Livak said. “Many ideas were explored when [Royal Gorge] was purchased over a year ago.”

The input report contains pages of comments, personal opinions and land use suggestions. The greatest number of comments were concerns about public access to trials, open space, and wilderness. Residents of the Serene Lakes area were also concerned about traffic congestion and road safety in case of an emergency on Soda Springs Road, as it’s the only access road, according to the report.

“The report is a summary of themes,” and is “not a statistical or scientific study,” Livak said.

Livak said several people responded positively to the report during a meeting held by Serene Lakes Property Owners Association on Sunday. There were approximately 200 people in attendance at the meeting, Bern said.

Besides Serene Lakes Property Owners Association, Sugar Bowl homeowners, the Donner Summit Area Association, Palisades residents, Cedars residents, and other environment organizations contributed comments to the report.

Bern said the report only contained “a strategically selective set of comments,” such as the number of people in favor of the development of a golf course on the property, and didn’t include all submitted concerns.

Earlier this summer there was also a rumor of a “bubble plan,” or conceptual plan, that was supposedly in the works, but Royal Gorge is still in the “data collection phase” and will be coming up with a plan at a later date, Livak said.


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