(image: Bear Valley Resorts)

After Long Regulatory Process, California’s Bear Valley Readies for Expansion

Bear Valley, CA – Bear Valley Resorts announced today that it has reached several key milestones in its master development plan, laying the groundwork for the realization of its long-planned renovation and expansion. Situated between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite in the Stanislaus National Forest on California’s scenic Highway 4, Bear Valley has long been known as one of the regions’ mid-size ski and snowboard resorts, family friendly and situated in a breathtakingly beautiful valley.

Bear Valley Resorts officials now indicate that they’ve reached several key milestones in getting their Master Development Plan (MDP) through the regulatory process, including receiving final approval of its Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Master Plan, as well as the completion and approval of the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the ski area.

The ski area’s redevelopment and expansion planning began in 2005, when the ownership of the resort and the adjacent Bear Valley Village was consolidated. At that point, ownership partners laid out a long-term master plan in several phases: the purchase of the resort and village properties; the permitting and entitlement phase; an investment cycle; and a development phase. After nearly seven years of painstaking regulatory and environmental work, the first two phases are now complete.

“After many years of very hard work, we have completed the entitlement phase and are now moving into the investment cycle. It is very exciting after all this time to be able to actually start thinking about what we can do, instead of working through regulatory issues,” said Greg Finch, the managing partner of Bear Valley Resorts. “All the groundwork for a spectacular development has been laid – this will be one of the jewels of the Sierra.”

(image: Bear Valley Resorts)
(image: Bear Valley Resorts)

The partnership is now actively at work securing the capital needed to fund the planned expansion, which includes a new pedestrian village to be built upon private land adjacent to the current Bear Valley Lodge, with retail, dining and plans for up to 350 residential units, as well as the installation of a new 1.5-mile high-speed chairlift that would link the village at 7,100 feet of elevation to the ski area at Koala Rocks at 8,200 feet, several new ski runs for all abilities returning to the village, employee housing and mountain top dining. An outdoor amphitheater for summer activities is proposed next to the base terminal of the Village Lift.

“I don’t see the future expansion as changing anything about the unique mountain village living experience that Bear Valley families now enjoy,” said Terry Woodrow, an Alpine County Supervisor. “In addition, it will introduce more families to the area and will help expand economic opportunities in our region. The community is pleased that the Bear Valley ownership group pursued this long regulatory process through to completion and we are looking forward to the future expansion and redevelopment.”

The town of Bear Valley is not currently connected to the ski area by a ski lift. Instead, residents and guests either drive or take a ski area shuttle bus to the ski area’s day lodge. In addition to the proposed new Bear Valley Village, the proposed new ski trails would also access Bear Valley roads from various locations along the western, northern, and eastern boundaries of the town, thus providing ski-in/ski-out access to much of the town. Because the Village Lift would access the top of the mountain, requiring passengers to ski or snowboard down to the day lodge, those needing equipment or beginner lessons would still need to ride or drive to the ski area from town. The ski area therefore expects to continue providing a shuttle bus service.

“We’re quite confident that we will secure funding for the expansion,” noted Finch. “Bear Valley represents one of the last great development opportunities in the Sierra. It is the closest multi-facet resort to many of the residents of the Bay Area, and will forever feel uncrowded and unspoiled. Completing all these entitlements is a huge accomplishment but it is just the start. Any meaningful next steps will require a great deal of capital and we want to build on our current momentum.”

Finch also noted that he is seeing positive change in the local and national real estate market after several years of depressed pricing and sales. “While we are still some ways away from a total recovery, the movement is finally in the right direction,” he said.

“Alpine County is one of those truly special places in the Sierra and among its greatest assets are two of the best ski resorts in California,” stated Michael Berry, longtime CEO of Kirkwood and now President of the National Ski Area Association (NSAA). “I see Bear Valley Mountain as one those rare gems that with a caring group of investors can pursue a renovation and expansion plan that will create a truly unique destination…a place where families can gather and enjoy a spectacular mountain resort summer and winter.”

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