RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists at Lake Tahoe have agreed to drop a lawsuit challenging plans to build a 2.2-mile gondola connecting two ski resorts in exchange for neighboring land purchases and other wildlife protection measures.
The resorts, including one that hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics, and a wilderness protection group finalized the agreement this past week as part of the U.S. Forest Service’s final approval of the gondola that will skirt federally protected wilderness that is home to an endangered frog.
As part of the settlement with the Granite Chief Wilderness Protection League, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows agreed to permanently protect 27 acres of habitat for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and contribute about $500,000 over the next decade toward land purchases and other protection efforts.
It also prohibits any road construction within the Tahoe National Forest’s neighboring Granite Chief Wilderness Area and dictates the gondola will operate only during the winter, shutting down each year no later than April 30.
Daniel Heagerty, the director of the league that had filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court challenging Placer County’s approval of the project in July, said they are “very pleased” with the deal.
“Squaw Alpine has made significant and greatly appreciated commitments to minimize wilderness impacts and invest in important endangered species conservation efforts,” he said.
The gondola with eight-passenger cars and 33 towers — some as high as 50 feet — would transport up to 1,400 people an hour on a 16-minute trip between the bases of the two resorts northwest of Tahoe City, California. Squaw Valley hosted the Winter Olympics.