Sugar Bowl cools on Royal Gorge lift plan | SierraSun.com

Sugar Bowl cools on Royal Gorge lift plan

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort is reconsidering plans that would have connected the ski hill to the planned Royal Gorge development on Donner Summit.

Billed as an outdoor recreation community, the 950-unit Royal Gorge development’s tentative plans included cross country skiing and a lift connection to Sugar Bowl, but ski resort officials decided to rethink the arrangement.

“We felt it was premature,” said Robert Kautz, chief executive officer of Sugar Bowl. “Our position is we think development is needed for the vitality of the Summit, but it needs to be sound, well-planned development.”

Ski resort officials signed a letter of intent with Royal Gorge in March 2007, but the scope and scale of the project has raised some concerns Sugar Bowl would like to see addressed in the project’s environmental review process, Kautz said.

The lift would have connected from one of the proposed “camps” of Royal Gorge across to the lower part of Crows Nest on the western edge of the Sugar Bowl, Kautz said.

“Royal Gorge will still be studying having the lift as an alternative in the [Environmental Impact Report] process,” said Royal Gorge Project Manager Mike Livak.

By studying the project both with and without the ski lift, Livak said they will find out any changes to impacts of the project like traffic on the Summit.

Kautz said Sugar Bowl doesn’t have a problem with Royal Gorge continuing with the lift as an alternative, and will wait to see what results come out of the study.

Sugar Bowl’s decision could affect the layout of the Royal Gorge project, Livak said.

“The amenity distribution may be changed,” Livak said. “The unit distribution over the property may be different as well.”

But those changes shouldn’t affect the timing on formal plan submittal to Placer County, which Livak said is coming soon.

He said that the overall feel of the project shouldn’t be affected either, as the focus will remain on cross country skiing and trails.