West Bowl Goals Achieved on 1-Year Caldor Fire Anniversary
TWIN BRIDGES, California. – August 29, 2022 Exactly one year ago today, the Caldor Fire reached Sierra-at-Tahoe, blazing directly through the West Bowl area of the mountain causing significant damage to the ski lifts, trails, trees and a maintenance building. Today, from concerted efforts across the United States Forest Service (USFS), El Dorado Resource Conservation District (RCD), El Dorado Community Foundation, and Kingsborough Atlas Tree Surgery, Inc. (Atlas Tree) in collaboration with Sierra, the remediation goals for West Bowl in Phase I have been achieved with over 14,000 fire killed and damaged hazard trees cut and are in progress of being removed from the resort.
RCD Foresters, John Quidachay and Jim Davis continue to work closely with Atlas to meet the day to day challenges on steep and difficult terrain. Quidachay says in all his 40 years as a practicing forester, the Sierra-at Tahoe Caldor Fire recovery and restoration project is one of the most difficult he has worked on. “The collective efforts and expertise of all the personnel involved has been tremendous.” Quidanchay says. “Our immediate attention has been to conduct operations in a workmanlike and orderly manner to achieve the resort reopening objective and to protect National Forest resources such as waterways and soil resources”.
Attention was first directed to West Bowl, the area with the largest footprint and most severe damage. After just 55 days of intensive efforts by hand fallers, heavy equipment operators, and trucking crews, approximately 5 million board feet of timber has been removed from Sierra’s slopes to date.
“Our team is dedicated to ensuring that Sierra will be open for this year’s ski season,” Tyler Willis, Atlas Tree’s Director of Forest Management says. “This multi-workflow project incorporates a wide range of equipment, personnel, partners, and resources. We have deployed more than 30 employees manning 20 pieces of specialized heavy forestry equipment to achieve this goal.”
Non-merchantable timber is being chipped and broadcast to provide ground insulation on ski trails to increase the longevity of snowpack and help with erosion control. Salvageable timber is being trucked to Tahoe Forest Products to be milled and repurposed, and some remaining wood will be memorialized at Sierra. Atlas is anticipating an additional 15 million board feet of salvaged timber from this Sierra project will be sent to the mill.
With between 40-50 truck loads of hazardous timber being hauled off the mountain daily, what once seemed an insurmountable feat is close to being in the rear view mirror and the anticipation for opening day is now within reach.
“When I look at the mountain, I see opportunity. New terrain just waiting to be explored and new memories waiting to be made,” John Rice, General Manager at Sierra-at-Tahoe says. “We are looking forward to a long overdue ‘welcome home’ to our guests this winter. For long-time passholders or first time guests alike, there will be something new for everyone, and that is exciting.”
With the first phase of West Bowl complete, the crew have begun hand felling operations on the east side of the mountain, near Sugar N’ Spice and Jack’s Bowl with sights set on tackling the areas impacted on the Backside of the resort next. The Upper Shop maintenance building, which was destroyed in the fire, is currently being rebuilt, led by Haen Constructors, with a goal of completion during the ski season.
With winter on the horizon, the momentum is building across the mountain with all crews digging in to ‘Go big, and come home’ this 2022/23 season.
Please note, the resort is not open to the public until further notice.
Those interested in continuing to support restoration efforts, can make a donation to the Caldor Restoration Fund established by the RCD The El Dorado Community Foundation
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About Sierra-at-TahoePlay is the name of the game at Sierra-at-Tahoe, where 2,000 acres and 2,212 vertical feet of skiable terrain offer skiers + riders the freedom to explore their style at any level. With restoration efforts underway, after a season off due to damage sustained from the Caldor Fire, Sierra welcomes long-time loyalists and new friends back to explore. Whether it’s sending big mountain terrain via Huckleberry Canyon, carving down sunbathed groomers in West Bowl, learning a new trick in the Sierra Playgrounds or the exhilaration of making one’s first turns on Sierra’s Sculpted Learning Terrain, there is a new landscape and a place for you here, that is just waiting to be discovered. Welcome back to Sierra, #WherePlayReignsFree. For more information please visit, www.sierraattahoe.com