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Kirkwood ski resort fined for dumping asphalt into nearby stream

A skier takes to the slopes at Kirkwood Mountain Resort earlier this week. The resort agreed to pay a $754,732 fine over violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
A skier takes to the slopes at Kirkwood Mountain Resort earlier this week. The resort agreed to pay a $754,732 fine over violations of the federal Clean Water Act. rpench@sacbee.com

Kirkwood Mountain Resort has been fined $754,732 for illegally dumping asphalt pavement “grindings” into nearby streams and wetlands, state officials announced Thursday.

The popular Sierra ski resort, which straddles Alpine and Amador counties in the Carson Pass area, was discovered dumping the asphalt shavings into Kirkwood Creek, tributary streams and assorted wetlands in spring 2016. Investigators determined that between 900 and 1,840 cubic yards of the asphalt material wound up in the creek and wetlands, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act, according to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Kirkwood agreed to pay the fine without admitting liability. The resort is also removing the grindings from the affected areas, said Andrew Altevogt, the regional water agency’s assistant executive officer.

Kirkwood used recycled asphalt grindings to resurface unpaved parking lots. When snow-removal crews cleared the lots with plows and blowers, “all this material kind of went with the snow and ended up in the streams and the wetlands,” Altevogt said.

About half of the fine will be paid to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to pay for a series of “aquatic restoration projects” in Alpine and Amador watersheds, including the restoration of eroded banks of the Carson River, according to water agency documents.

Altevogt said Kirkwood has succeeded in cleaning up most of the asphalt, “but it’s still an ongoing process.”

Spokeswoman Rachael Woods of Vail Resorts, the Colorado company that operates Kirkwood, said the resort “will continue to work with the appropriate agencies to remediate the remaining impacts to the environment.” She added that Kirkwood has revamped its snow-removal procedures.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler

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