Settlement ends resort plans on Dyer Mountain in Lassen County

A decadelong legal battle over a controversial four-season resort on Dyer Mountain has ended with a settlement agreement reached between Lassen County, Sierra Pacific Industries and three environmental groups.

The county and the timber company, which bought the 7,000-acre property in 2013, agreed to pay $519,000 to Sierra Watch, Mountain Meadows Conservancy and the Sierra Club, said Richard Egan, Lassen County administrative officer.

The payments were sent this week, he said Thursday.

The settlement, approved last month in a closed session of the Lassen County Board of Supervisors, ends the environmentalists’ challenge of the development, planned to include ski facilities, golf courses, 600,000 square feet of commercial space and more than 4,000 residential units.

Their appeal of a 2010 Lassen Superior Court decision sought to force the county to redo an environmental review of the development.

The planned resort died in January, when Lassen supervisors rescinded a development agreement and tentative subdivision map approved in 2007. Officials with the Anderson-based timber company announced that they had no interest in the high-end development when they bought the timbered mountainside for $17.2 million from the federal bankruptcy court.

The environmentalists contended it was their lawsuit that ultimately stopped the $35 million development.

Rather than continue the battle in the state 3rd District Court of Appeal, county and SPI officials decided to mediate the dispute to avoid an estimated $1.5 million in court costs, Egan said.

About $200,000 of the settlement amount will come from a fund established by the original Dyer Mountain owners to cover legal fees. Lassen County and Sierra Pacific will split the remaining $319,000, he said.

The controversy began in 2000 when nearly 63 percent of countywide voters approved a ballot initiative modifying the county general plan to allow development on the slopes of Dyer Mountain near Westwood. The project had multiple owners and was mired in legal and financial difficulties before Sierra Pacific bought the land and paid around $3.3 million in taxes owed by the previous owners.

All remaining issues have now been settled, Egan said.

“I’m glad it’s over,” he said.