Donner Summit Development
The Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort was purchased in 2005 by three investors, Todd Foster, Mark Foster, and Kirk Syme. The two Fosters are principals in Foster Enterprises, the bay area development firm responsible for Foster City. Syme is the sole owner of Woodstock Development Company, also in the bay area. In addition to the resort, the three purchased several thousand acres of additional land at Donner Summit near Serene Lakes. In total they purchased some 3000 acres.
In 2007 the group, now called Royal Gorge LLC, revealed plans for their development at Donner Summit that includes up to 1000 housing units. The units would be a combination of dense condominiums (some used as time-shares or fractional ownership units), lodges, and single-family homes. The entire character of this community would be changed by the massive development.
Cross country ski trails would be destroyed by the development, both to accommodate homes, roads, and parking lots, and to build a new downhill ski resort connected to Sugar Bowl.
The developers have so far been unable to solve several major problems.
- They have not found a source of sufficient water for the proposed development. They are currently looking into dredging the Serene Lakes, taking water that now flows down Serena Creek (a class one perennial trout stream that feeds the North Fork of the American River headwaters), and perhaps redamming Van Norden Meadow, which they had originally promised to save as open space. Van Norden Meadow is an absolutely critical part of the headwaters of the South Yuba River. The development plans would result in huge fluctuations in water level at Serene Lakes with large, muddy banks being exposed as the water level drops.
- They have not addressed the disposal of sewage. The local sewage plant is near capacity, and it will not be able to accommodate a development of this size.
- Placer County has firmly stated that the developers must provide a second egress for their proposed development (a community surrounded by forest needs adequate roads for escape from fire) and access for fire fighting personnel. Such access has not been identified.
Forces opposed to the development are led by local homeowners and local environmental organizations. Snowlands Network is monitoring the issue because the development has the potential to radically affect cross-country skiing in the area.
Additional information can be found at: