The Star Tribune reports that the US Forest Service has rejected the Minnesota ski resort’s expansion plan. This decision was due to the expansion encroaching onto the Superior Hiking Trail, its effects on other recreational activities, the environmental impacts, and concerns brought up by Native American tribes over a treaty signed in 1854. This is the draft final decision, with an objection period coming next. The decision will be finalized ninety days after the initial announcement.
The US Forest Service was given three choices: Alternative 1 (no action/rejection), Alternative 2, or Alternative 3. Alternatives 2 & 3 saw the expansion by Lutsen onto Eagle Peak & Moose Mountain, which included a significant amount of new lifts, lodges, trails, and glades. Alternative 2 would’ve added terrain onto the front & back side of Moose, while 3 (pictured above) just added terrain to the front side. Alternative 3 was the option Lutsen preferred, due to it not disrupting hiking routes and having less of an environmental impact. Alternatives 2 & 3 saw resistance from Native Americans over the aforementioned treaty, which gave them the right to use the public land in the Superior National Forest (where Lutsen Mountains wanted to expand onto) for hunting, fishing, and other activities.
This rejection was in spite of a request from Lutsen to stop the process in order for them to consult with tribes about the expansion plans. Tom Hall of the U.S. Forest Service explained their reasoning for rejecting the plans to WTIP in spite of Lutsen’s attempted stoppage:
“I think they understood some of the direction that we were leaning toward in the planning process and the development of the draft decision.”
Lutsen Mountain will be revising its proposal to address concerns brought up by tribes and the U.S. Forest Service. Charles Skinner, who’s the chief of staff of Midwest Ski Resorts, which owns Lutsen and Snowriver Mountain Resort, said the following in a statement:
“Lutsen Mountains respects the Forest Service decision process. We are committed to being an active and constructive member of our community and will work collaboratively with sovereign tribal nations, local elected leaders, and others to improve our area.”
It’s been a rough summer for the popular Minnesota ski resort. A fire destroyed the Papa Charlie’s Restaurant at the ski resort in June. On the bright side, they are working on a major chairlift replacement. This summer, they are replacing the 10th Mountain Chairlift with a high-speed detachable six-pack chairlift.
Image Credits: Lutsen Mountains