New No-Cal Resort

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California's first ski area in over 20 years, and perhaps the nation's last major ski resort, is taking shape at the northern end of the Sierra. It's Dyer Mountain -- a five-lift, 2,400-vertical-foot ski area and four-season resort in rural Lassen County, about 250 miles northeast of San Francisco. Don't expect Squaw North when the 7,500-foot peak opens for the 2003-2004 season. "The mountain, in all honesty, is not one of those Jackson Hole places," said spokesman John Poimiroo, who called it "a mix between Sundance and Deer Valley" -- only flatter. The developer says the resort, which will have as many as three golf courses and 3,000 beds, will be utterly "green." But critics are furious at what they call an end run around an environmental review. In a highly unusual -- and successful -- county referendum last fall, voters up-zoned 6,800 acres of private logging lands at the mountain's hem. That gave the resort a green light that is increasingly rare on public land, home to most large resorts.