Homewood cleans up forest
Chippers purr and workers bustle among the trees at a West Shore ski area.
This is not your typical ski-lift building and prepping for snow that ski resorts undertake during the summer.
At Homewood Mountain Resort, chipper crews are steadily clearing the 1,260-acre mountain of dead and dying wood and small trees. It’s a project that has taken a lot of work and an estimated $250,000 alone this year.
Part of the price tag includes the cost of two state-of-the-art chippers, one of which runs on rubberized tracks and is remote-controlled. The radio-controlled chipper can navigate between trees in the forest, allowing workers to clear otherwise inaccessible portions of the mountain.
The work will protect Homewood, the West Shore communities and Lake Tahoe from a possible catastrophic wildfire, says Rick Brown, vice president of JMA Sierra Ventures, the owner of Homewood Mountain Resort.
Neighboring property, littered with dead and dying limbs and thickly wooded, is “the tinder box you keep writing about and hearing about,” said Brown.
“We want to get that threat of catastrophic fire out of the way,” said Brown. “Our neighbors need that.”
And the resort also needs that, Brown added. If a catastrophic wildfire hit the ski resort, “it would be over” for Homewood as a business, said Brown.
“You can see the economic impact that South Lake Tahoe fire has created and you don’t want that,” he said.
The work also has other benefits: Opening up tree skiing at the resort, said Brown.
The resort is also working to revegetate old roads that are no longer needed and place wood chips and ground brush on the hillsides to prevent erosion.
Alpine Meadows sale to close soon
The pending sale of Alpine Meadows ski resort to Homewood Mountain Resort owner JMA Ventures is expected to be finalized this month, JMA Ventures President Art Chapman told the Sierra Sun earlier this year.
Alpine Meadows owner Powdr Corp. struck a tentative agreement with JMA Ventures in April to sell the ski resort. Between April and June, JMA Ventures reviewed the resort’s records and agreed to finalize the purchase, according to Chapman.
Chapman said his plan for the resort is to “to bring it back as a destination for locals.”
Boosting customer service, adding entertainment and upgrading the property are all part of that plan, he said.
“We hope to make some changes,” said Chapman. “We don’t have time for a major re-work [before the 2007-08 winter season].”
Chapman said he was meeting with Alpine Meadows employees on Wednesday.
As for the ticket prices and season pass prices for next season, Chapman said that has not been determined. The resort will consider offering a single pass that would give skiers and snowboarders access to both Homewood and Alpine Meadows, said Chapman.