Dyer Mountain

dyer mountainDyer Mountain stands in the remote regions of the far Northern Sierra.  Untouched by pavement, its vistas and habitat remain – another great example of how we can work together to protect the places we love.

But it didn’t have to be that way.  A massive 7,000-acre holding was slated for sprawling subdivisions with 4,000 houses, three golf courses, and a ski resort.

For thirteen years, Sierra Watch worked with Lassen County locals to protect the mountain.  And a hearing in 2013 marked the end of the attempt to subdivide, pave, and develop Dyer Mountain.

Dyer Mountain Associates (DMA) filed its original development proposal in 1999 and locked in favorable zoning with a 2000 citizens initiative.  Out of scale with its rural surroundings, the project would have more than doubled the entire existing population of Lassen County.

In terms of infrastructure, the only access was a one-lane bridge across the Hamilton Branch of the Feather River.  And the property included incredible conservation and cultural value, home to bald eagle habitat as well as sacred Native American sites.

But to some, the development appeared inevitable.

A 2001 edition of Skiing magazine projected the resort would open for the 2003-04 season.  Developers were selling first dibs on new lots in their impending subdivisions.  And Sierra tourists read in the 2009 Lonely Planet Guide to California, “By the time you read this, a 3000-acre ski area, Dyer Mountain Resort, will be the area’s new winter polestar.”

In the meantime, would-be developers were running into trouble, some of it of their own making. Developers were sued by their own investors for fraud.  The project mired in bankruptcy, foreclosure, and debt.  Ownership passed through a series of creditors and holding companies.

All the while, Sierra Watch was working with committed locals and regional non-profits to build overwhelming support for the protection of Dyer Mountain.

At the center of that effort was Steve Robinson, a Viet Nam vet and retired carpenter who lived in the Lassen County town of Westwood, beneath Dyer Mountain.

Robinson worked with neighbors to found a new organization, Mountain Meadows Conservancy, to take up the cause.  He traveled throughout the Sierra and California to recruit support.  And he offered tours – Steve would invite you up to Lassen County and show you the rugged beauty of Dyer Mountain; by the time you got back into your car to drive home, you were hooked.

Fourteen years into the fight, Robinson died in February of 2013.  But he left behind a combination of personal commitment, grassroots advocacy, and effective litigation that proved too much for the development to withstand.

Later in 2013, the property was purchased by Sierra Pacific Industries, who quickly made it clear: they had no intention to pursue development of the property.  In September, they sent a letter asking Lassen County to rescind the 2007 development approvals.  And the Lassen County Board of Supervisors followed through with that request, negating the development’s 2007 Environmental Impact Report (EIR), Subdivision Maps, and Development Agreement.

Just as in Martis Valley and on Donner Summit, the message from Dyer Mountain is clear: no development is inevitable; we can work together to protect the places we love.

© 2017 Sierra Watch, 408 Broad Street, Suite 12, Nevada City, California 95959, Tel. 530.265.2849

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