By Bob Goligoski, Correspondent
Squaw Valley has removed more than 5,000 dead or diseased trees from its lower mountain enabling it to open three new glade area for skiers and snowboarders.
About 100 acres of new terrain was added to the slopes with the addition of the three new tree skiing areas – Red Dog Glades, Paris Glades and Heidi’s Glades.
The tree removal project, which employed the use of helicopters to remove the trees, also added a new connector trail off the Champs Elysees run to give skiers and riders easy access into the new glades.
All the new terrain, rated upper-intermediate to expert, is in the Red Dog region of the resort. Access into the area previously had been very limited because of the dense population of standing or fallen trees.
“The current drought and the King Fire bring into sharp focus the issue of forest health and how it affects our community right here in Squaw,” said Peter Bansen, Squaw Valley fire chief.
“Thinning provided valuable benefits by effectively utilizing the available water for the most viable trees and the removal of dead or diseased trees dramatically reduced the risk of fire,” Bransen said.
He added, “While this work was expensive for a private landowner, our community will benefit from Squaw’s investment in fuels reduction and forest health and I commend the company for doing the right thing.”
Most of the trees were processed for timber use and other tree material was chipped for further use at the resort. By using helicopters for the work, there was no need to skid or drag the fallen trees along the ground in sensitive areas, thus minimizing adverse environmental impact.
“Our goal was to return the forested areas in the Red Dog region back to a more natural and healthy state by removing potentially dangerous overgrowth and deadfall. Although the project was costly, it was worth the investment to improve the environment while also improving skiing and riding at the resort,” said Mike Livak, executive vice president of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows.