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Squaw allowed to run lifts during appeal

Shannon Darling, Sun News Service

Over three weeks ago Squaw Valley USA was told they could not operate their newly-built Headwall and Gold Coast lifts, but Squaw has now been told they can operate their lifts during the appeal process.

“We maintain our right of operation under appeal,” said Mike Livak, director of planning at Squaw Valley USA.

Squaw skiers can sigh with relief for the $6 million high-speed detachable lifts, built last year, will be able to carry skiers up the mountain this winter.

“It will be business as usual,” said Livak.

The Headwall lift accesses terrain for advanced skiers and the Gold Coast lift accesses terrain for intermediate skiers.

The decision to revoke Squaw’s conditional use permits for the lifts, built last summer, came after an Aug. 24 Placer County Planning Commission meeting.

Placer County decided to revoke Squaw’s permit because work exceeded “the actual environmental impacts of the project have substantially exceeded those anticipated,” according to a finding of fact statement from the planning commission.

Fred Yeager, Placer County planning director, maintains Squaw rerouted drainages to build the lift, contributing to sediment in Squaw Creek.

“The terminal itself could have moved up the hill,” said Yeager in an interview last week.

Squaw Creek was placed on the impaired water list last year.

Squaw Valley USA maintains the creek has less sediment in it than it did before the lifts were built.

The decision will be appealed to the Placer County Board of Supervisors, said Livak.

“The board of supervisors should find there is no evidence that Squaw Valley acted improperly in the construction of these lifts,” said Squaw’s attorney, David Robertson.

“We are continuing to work with them (Placer County),” said Livak.

Livak hopes that Placer County and the ski corporation can work on a solution.

“I don’t think they could ever restore the area back to the way it was before the disturbance,” said Yeager, Placer County planning director.


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