Ski-town news roundup: Forest Service releases Tahoe forest plan objections |

Ski-town news roundup: Forest Service releases Tahoe forest plan objections

Compiled by Lauren Glendenning
A skier floats through 18 inches of fresh snow Thursday at Copper Mountain. Forecasters are calling for up to 30 inches of snow by Saturday.
Tripp Fay / Copper Mountain |

LAKE TAHOE — The U.S. Forest Service has published 12 formal objections to a “forest plan” that will guide management of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit for the next 15 years.

The plan is entering a 90-day objection resolution period during which the USFS will work with the objectors to determine whether their objections can be resolved.

Objections focus on firefighting and fuel-reduction strategies, habitat management, wildlife protection, wilderness designations and over-snow and off-highway vehicle access and restrictions.

The Forest Service chief in Washington, D.C., is overseeing the objection resolution process. Following that, the regional forester will sign a record of decision for the forest plan to take effect.

Only individuals or groups that commented in earlier phases of the plan’s creation could file objections related to those comments. More than 18,000 people commented on a draft forest plan. Considering so many views in a plan to manage 150,000 acres of public land is a “Herculean task,” some objectors acknowledge in letters to the USFS.

Among the 12 objectors are area fire chiefs. Fire chiefs representing Tahoe Douglas, Meeks Bay, Lake Valley, North Lake Tahoe, North Tahoe Fire, Fallen Leaf Lake and the city of South Lake Tahoe filed a joint objection letter.

In the letter, the chiefs state they have “substantive concerns” about some of the plan’s firefighting and fuel-reduction strategies, as well as land management, fuels management and fire suppression standards that if implemented “could negatively impact lives, property and public safety.”

Heavenly Mountain Resort says that parts of the forest plan would “improperly impede” its rights to terrain inside its ski area special-use permit boundary.

Heavenly points to a 200-acre cap on the increase of “operational footprint acres” of ski areas and slopes in the basin, arguing that would impact its existing special-use permit rights. The Vail-owned resort also objects to creation of a special refuge area for whitebark pine in its permit and operational boundaries, arguing that conservation is better served through an existing management agreement with the Forest Service.

Talisker-Park City lawsuit discovery phases closes

PARK CITY, Utah — A critical stretch of the lawsuit between Park City Mountain Resort and Talisker Land Holdings LLC — the period when the two sides took depositions and obtained critical documents — is over.

The discovery phase of a lawsuit is crucial to a case as the sides build their arguments for motions and, perhaps, an eventual trial. Attorneys for PCMR and Talisker took the depositions of high-level figures, including top-ranking executives John Cumming on the PCMR side and Jack Bistricer of Talisker. Rob Katz, the chairman and CEO of Canyons Resort operator Vail Resorts, also was among the figures who sat for a deposition.

The discovery phase closed as another important court date approached. The sides are scheduled to appear in 3rd District Court on Thursday. PCMR will argue that some parts of the Talisker countersuit should be dismissed. The sides could also broach issues related to the discovery phase.

The lawsuit centers on PCMR’s lease of acreage underlying most of the resort’s terrain. Talisker argues PCMR did not renew the lease before a 2011 deadline while PCMR says it did. PCMR also claims that it was denied a right of first refusal when the landowner reached an agreement with Vail Resorts to operate Canyons Resort. The agreement with Vail Resorts could be expanded to include the terrain at PCMR depending on the outcome of the case.

The countersuit by Talisker asserts claims like unlawful detainer and unjust enrichment based on PCMR’s continued presence on the land.

The discovery phase, which began last summer, involved both PCMR’s lawsuit and the other side’s countersuit.

Russian PM wants plans for Sochi venues post-Olympics

SOCHI, Russia — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has urged his government to come up with a plan for the post-Olympic use of Sochi venues, signaling the government’s worry over the costly maintenance of expensive buildings.

Medvedev issued an order on the government’s website on Friday urging the government as well as a charitable foundation supported by the country’s richest men to present proposals for the post-Olympic use of venues by the end of the month.

Helping the government to figure out the best way to manage the venues will be the Fund for Supporting Olympians of Russia, which has some of Russia’s richest men as its members, including Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska.

The Audit Chamber, the government’s auditing agency, last year raised concern about the legacy of the Olympic venues. Its chairman Sergei Stepashin quoted expert estimates that the maintenance of the venues would cost Russia at least 60 billion rubles a year ($2 billion).

The Winter Games open in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Feb. 7 and run through Feb. 23. Russia has spent about $51 billion on the Games, making them the most expensive in Olympic history.

There are five arenas in the Olympic park, including two for ice hockey, in this subtropical city. Sochi does not have a history of winter sports and along with the arenas, there will be new highways and real estate to maintain.

— The Associated Press

Skier dies in crash at Sugarbush in Vermont

WARREN, Vt. — Vermont State Police say a skier has died in a crash at the Sugarbush Ski Resort in Warren,

The 19-year-old woman was skiing on Saturday morning with family and friends at Mount Ellen when she lost control, went off the trail and hit a trail sign.

Police say the crash happened at the intersection of the Lower Rim Run and Lower FIS trails.

Police say ski patrol and emergency responders provided medical treatment until she was transported to Central Vermont Hospital in Berlin. Police say she died of her injuries upon arriving at the hospital.

Police have not released the skier’s name.

— The Associated Press

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