The environmental intrigue in Yard Sale involves allegations that a Forest Service employee enjoys an overly cozy relationship with the ski area. The specifics in the book are fictional; those kinds of allegations are not. Those allegations aren’t new either. In one of the most famous environmental cases of the last forty years, the Sierra Club alleged that Forest Service officials had put their own interests and those of the Walt Disney Company ahead of their responsibilities to the public.
In 1969, the Forest Service okayed a $35 million dollar ski complex planned by Disney in the scenic Mineral King valley of the Sequoia National Forest. Six months after Disney got the green light, the Sierra Club filed suit to halt the proposed development. The case eventually went to the Supreme Court, and the Sierra Club lost.
But the story didn’t end there. As a result of the lawsuit, the Forest Service was forced into a seven-year environmental impact study on the Mineral King project. By the time it was completed, Disney had decided to abandon the development. More significant still, as a direct result of the case individuals gained the right to sue over environmental laws if they could show that failure to enforce those laws would harm them in some way. Conservationists across the country celebrated.
In writing Yard Sale, I used the Mineral King case as the basis for Elaine McKenzie’s misgivings about the relationship between the ski area and the Forest Service. I detailed Disney’s role and that apparently made the editor nervous. After much internal debate, I decided that the case, while interesting, was not necessary to the plot. But readers of Yard Sale know that I did not let Disney off entirely.
Yard Sale is available through Amazon.