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altasnob
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PostThu Jul 16, 2020 3:08 pm 
I bet Ski, MountainGoat, and treeswarper would argue that the 1989 landmark environmental lawsuit brought by the Methow Valley Citizens Council, Sierra Club, and Washington Environmental Council was a waste of taxpayer dollars since the environmental groups were awarded $200,000 in attorney fees after they prevailed in the US Supreme Court. This lawsuit prevented the development of the Early Winters ski area. Can you imagine how different the Methow, and all of Eastern/Central Washington would be today, if there was a Whistler style resort there and this "frivolous" lawsuit was never filed?

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/490/332/

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treeswarper
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PostThu Jul 16, 2020 3:53 pm 
I'm not sure it would be much different.  The Methow has and is still getting developed and is unaffordable for many now.  Water is an issue as it has been for a while.  I guess there'd be more condominiums, but the water issue might limit that more than at Whistler.

I lived there when the ski battle was being waged.  It was interesting to see the real estate prices go up when it looked like the project was going through, then down when it didn't.

You might be able to find a single wide old mobile home on a small lot for under or near $200,000.  Quite affordable for a minimum wage earner, I'm sure.....

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Randito
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PostThu Jul 16, 2020 4:03 pm 
I wonder if Early Winters had gone ahead whether Methow real estate prices would be now in the same league with Aspen, Jackson Hole and Deer Valley where a 2br double wide is for sale for $900K

https://aspenrealestate.com/properties/216-cottonwood-lane-aspen-colorado-81611/154695491/

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Malachai Constant
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PostThu Jul 16, 2020 4:40 pm 
I do not think Early Winters would have ever amounted to much. I skied the proposed slopes and they were kind of meh. No large airport near or population centers. Whistler spent $$$$ on improving the road and was paid for with Hong Kong money. People from Hong Kong could easily go to Canada as both were UK commonwealth.Early Winters at best would have been another Crystal at the end of a huge drive from Seattle or Vancouver. Highway 20 will always be closed in winter unless there is major warming then no snow to ski on. The whole scheme was vaporware.

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Randito
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PostThu Jul 16, 2020 5:04 pm 
Malachai Constant wrote:
I do not think Early Winters would have ever amounted to much. I skied the proposed slopes and they were kind of meh. No large airport near or population centers

Perhaps, but all of that was true of Aspen 40 years ago as well.

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altasnob
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PostThu Jul 16, 2020 5:28 pm 
The Supreme Court decision says "the proposed development would make use of approximately 3,900 acres of Sandy Butte."

Sandy Butte is 6,076 feet tall. I don't think it receives much snow. Snow making would work since it's relatively cold and they have a water source. I'm not sure if the ski area would have been limited to Sandy Butte proper or if it would have expanded south into the bigger, north facing terrain that lies just north of the wilderness boundary.

If the ski area was 3,900 acres, that would make it ninth largest ski area in North America, just below Lake Louse and Red Mountain, and just ahead of Squaw Valley. The only ski area larger in the PNW would be Mt. Bachelor. There are other crappy ski areas that get no snow and still have expensive real estate, golf courses, crowds, and everything else that comes with large scale ski development (Keystone and Breckenridge, CO).

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Randito
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PostThu Jul 16, 2020 5:47 pm 
I think that given that Silver Star is currently a Heli skiing destination,  that had Early Winters proceeded that lift service would have been developed in that area as well.  That is truly world class terrain.

If you look at the terrain and annual snowpack figures for Aspen Early Winters looks pretty competitive.

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Malachai Constant
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PostThu Jul 16, 2020 7:18 pm 
Forty years ago was 1980 Aspen was a premiere ski resort at that time, it was already a playground of the beautiful people. Remember Claudine Longnet shot Spider Sabich around that time (1976) and Andy Williams was still doing Christmas specials. There was more snow in Colorado then also. Aspen also has a super cool and hip old mining town. I have skied all of the places mentioned and Early winters would be a minor light compared to Whistler, Jackson Hole, Little Cottonwood Canyon (Alta/Snowbird), and Tahoe.

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jinx'sboy
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PostThu Jul 16, 2020 7:33 pm 
Having lived in the Methow during the debate on the Ski Area (and handling the permit for the heliski operation for a few years) and seeing the land management changes happen, I can offer the following:

- Malachi C is correct...the Sandy Butte terrain is meh. One thing it DID have: gentle beginner terrain at the top of the mountain - which Ski areas want to have, for some reason.  There is quite a bit of snow, especially on Sandy Butte upper elevations.  I skied it several times, both with and without helicopter.  The heliski operator used it, mostly, as a place to ski when terrain further up Hwy 20 was not accessible due to cloud ceilings, etc.

- The ‘base area’ of the proposed village was right where Freestone Inn is now, with a secondary base further down valley at the base of of Looney Creek, maybe 2 miles SE of Freestone.  In all the discussions, public meeting, paper plans, Forest Plans, EIS’s etc, there was never any discussion including terrain near Silver Star.  It is 7+ miles from the proposed base to Silver Star summit.  Yes Silver star is incredible terrain, skied it several times.  But it wasn’t on the table.

- The whole Sandy Butte EIS was on-going at the same time the first Okanogan NF Forest Plan was being prepared.  There was a lot of co-ordination between those two planning efforts....and they each slowed the other process down, substantially.  The draft Forest Plan had to create a separate land classification that allowed the high density recreation.

- Ultimately, the ski area plans collapsed, partly because of water issues, but also just hubris on the part of the owners/developers.  A later planned resort, without skiing, was contemplated.  It went away for the same reasons.  If you look at Google maps, they did get quite a few golf course  holes cut out of the timber and some earthwork done, on what is private land. It almost happened....!  I agree that it was NEVER going to rival Aspen, Jackson or Whistler - too any problems with access, poor weather, bad/no airport, etc...

- Many credit the specter of big time recreation/residential expansion with making a fairly strict and forward thinking County zoning ordinance happen.  It serves the area pretty well...its why the Methow has what is has here, now

- Likewise the specter of development also drove the creation of the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness and the designation of the No. Cascades Scenic Highway (which I think might be the only one not just administratively designated) in the 1984 WA Wilderness Act.  The boundaries of the LCSW were drawn not just to accommodate the ski area, but also allow the heliski operation.

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Randito
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PostThu Jul 16, 2020 10:44 pm 
kbatku wrote:
All the five acre tracts make the countryside  look chopped up and cluttered - it didn't work out as intended.

Most legislation has unintended consequences.

The GMA certainly has those.   But before get your knickers too much in a twist about those, look at what has happened in SoCal over the last 50 years to get an idea of what the legislature was trying to avoid.

There are the 5 acre "ranchettes" true, but the other aspect are that with "urban growth" areas a lot of low density development has been demolished and high density mixed use development is happening.

I think without the GMA,  there would be continuous suburbs with 1/4 acre or smaller parcels from Kirkland to the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie USFS lands and far worse traffic problems.    Easton and Cle Elum would also feature sprawling suburban tracts.

I have cousins that live in SoCal  , six hour commute times aren't uncommon.

My youngest son currently lives in West Hollywood,  the effect of the COVID-19 shutdown on air quality has been remarkable.  He can see the San Gabriel's clearly now, in "nornal" times the skyline simply fades into the grey of the smog, the mountains only visible following rare winter rains.

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gb
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PostMon Jul 20, 2020 9:44 am 
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Ski
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PostMon Jul 20, 2020 11:29 am 
Well... thanks for the non sequitur, but what's that got to do with the EAJA? (The subject of this thread.)

And if you want to get all lathered up about "industrial pollution" and its effects on humans, you might want to focus your energies on the precursor chemicals used to make "Teflon" and other non-stick surfaces, since they're found in the blood of 99% of the earth's human inhabitants (not just a little village somewhere in Michigan.)

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treeswarper
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PostTue Jul 21, 2020 6:22 am 
gb wrote:
treeswarper wrote:
We pay them to sue us.   shakehead.gif


http://naturalresourcereport.com/2009/11/taxpayers-foot-the-bill-for-environmental-lawsuits/

Dare you to read this

doh.gif

Where have you been?  That's nothing new.  Cancer Alley along the Gulf Coast has been existing for years and years.   Love Canal.  Hanford downwinders.  Navajo lands, just to name a few, and you are just discovering this?

So?

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altasnob
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PostSun Jan 24, 2021 12:08 pm 
Great summary of EAJA, the Shifting the Debate: In Defense of the Equal Access to Justice Act

For an environmental group to sue and get paid attorney fees, they must not only win the lawsuit but show that the government's position was not "substantially justified." So in other words, even if the environmental group prevails, the government does not have to pay attorney fees if they convince the court that their position was "substantially justified."

And when an environmental group does win, and does show that the government's position was not substantially justified, their attorney fee hourly rate is capped by a statutory maximum that is much lower than fair market rate. In other types of law suits, like public record act lawsuits in Washington State, the prevailing party gets fair market value attorney fee rate.

The study above found "[n]o   empirical   studies   support   the   oft-heard   rhetorical   claim   that   environmental organizations are reaping significant amounts of money from attorney fees. Most appear to  derive  a  fairly  insignificant  portion  of  their  overall  funding  from  EAJA  or  other  fee awards,  though  those  fees  remain  important  for  their  litigation  function.  For  example, the Center for Biological Diversity—one of the most maligned environmental groups on this point—has stated that, on average, it receives only about one-half of one percent of its total annual income from EAJA fee awards."

"Nor    are    large    environmental    organizations    in    fact    bringing    the    majority    of environmental  suits  involving  EAJA.  A  recent  study  evaluating  the  impact  of  EAJA  on the U.S. Forest Service indicates that nearly three-quarters (74.4 percent) of the parties engaged  in  environmental  litigation  against  the  agency  are  involved  only  in  a  single lawsuit. With  respect  to  all  lawsuits  filed  against  U.S.  EPA  from  1995  to  2010,  local environmental  and  citizens’  groups  filed  16  percent  of  the  total  cases,  while  national environmental  organizations  filed  14  percent. With  respect  to  EAJA  fee  awards against  EPA,  the  majority  of  payments  (61  percent)  went  for  claims  filed  by  local environmental  groups,  with  national  environmental  groups  receiving  23  percent  of payments."

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PostSun Jan 24, 2021 1:56 pm 
^ I'm just getting a blank page there, catsp.

2001 sounds about right though.. it was already dated when this thread was first started.

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