Snoqualmie Ski Area Plan Agreement
Cascade Checkerboard Project Success:
Improved Ski Facilities but Less Impact on Wildlife
The Sierra Club, Alpine Lakes Protection Society, and Conservation NW have agreed with Ski Lifts, Inc. (SLI) on a revised master plan for the ski areas at Snoqualmie Pass. The company’s earlier proposal was evaluated in a Draft EIS a year ago. After reviewing the lengthy critiques submitted by the Club's Cascade Checkerboard Project and other conservation groups, Dan Brewster, manager of the ski area, approached Checkerboard Project Director Charlie Raines to discuss what type of package might meet the company’s needs while addressing the groups’ concerns. After several months of discussions among the groups, an agreement was worked out based on the preferred alternative (#5) in the DEIS, with key changes at Alpental and Hyak. Thus, most of the upgrading of the facilities proposed by SLI will proceed, as will the purchase of the 480-acre property in Mill Creek for mitigation.
Alpental Gondola and Restaurant Eliminated
At Alpental, the gondola up Denny Mountain to the mountain top restaurant would be eliminated from the proposal. To provide the same uphill skier capacity, the current double chair to the top will be replaced by a triple chair. As earlier proposed, the Internationale chairlift would also be built. To offset the impacts of the new development, SLI will donate approximately 130 acres of land just west of Guye Peak to the national forest, some of which will be added to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
New Hyak Lift Deferred Unless Studies Show Low Wildlife Impact
At Hyak, one of the two new lifts would be deferred until more in-depth wildlife studies can be completed. These will carefully review the current habitats, current and potential species use, the importance of this area as a connectivity corridor, and the impact of the development in the vicinity. Further, an independent scientific panel will evaluate those studies. SLI would not proceed with the Creek Run "pod" (ski lift and runs) unless that review indicated it could be done without significant negative impact on key species that use this area. The environmental groups will continue to monitor wildlife in the area and contribute to scientific studies. While the Creek Run pod, which would have cut through mature forest, will be deferred, the Rampart lift, which primarily traverses existing ski runs, will go ahead with special attention to mitigating for the impact to wetlands and forests at the base.
Wetlands and CO2 Get More Attention
Other issues addressed in the agreement include greater emphasis on buses and carpools, increased efforts to minimize impacts to wetlands and riparian areas plus restoration and mitigation, improved routing of the Pacific Crest Trail near the summit parking lot, and resolving issues between Nordic and Alpine skiers at Alpental. SLI would also provide a third party inspector to insure that the construction meets the provisions of the agreement.
Forest Service to Review Compromise
SLI has asked the Forest Service to incorporate this revision into the Final EIS and ultimately the Record of Decision.
Ski Lifts, Inc.: www.summitatsnoqualmie.com
Alpine Lakes Protection Society: www.alpinelakes.org
Conservation NW: www.conservationnw.org