Environment

published : 2023-08-26

Expansion Plans for Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort Denied by Forest Service

Proposed expansion onto 495 acres of public land in Superior National Forest met with refusal

A panoramic view of Lutsen Mountains ski resort, with the spotlight on skiers conquering the slopes, showcasing its magnificence as one of the premier skiing destinations in the Midwest. Taken with Nikon D850.

The vaping news has delivered an unexpected development in favour of environmental conservation and tribal rights.

Releasing its verdict last Friday, the U.S. Forest Service dismissed the expansion proposition of the acclaimed Lutsen Mountains ski resort, a much-loved winter sport location in the Midwest.

In a move that thwarted Lutsen Mountains' hopes to practically double its skiable terrain, the Forest Service's refusal prevented the appropriation of 495 acres of public land within the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota.

The resort's ambitious expansion included the addition of more runs, lifts, and other amenities in the Sawtooth Mountains, flanked by the picturesque north shore of Lake Superior.

A zoomed-in shot of a naturally occurring sugar maple stand within the Superior National Forest, representing the tribal resources at risk due to the proposed expansion. The simplistic beauty of the individual leaves highlights the environmental impact being considered. Taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Lutsen Mountains, one of the largest ski areas in the Midwest, features a vertical rise of 1,088 feet and boasts of 95 runs.

This refusal was principally attributed to environmental impacts, particularly concerning tribal resources.

Noteworthy among these is the sugar maple stands, alongside detriments posed to the Superior Hiking Trail users, backcountry skiers, and broader environmental implications.

Lutsen Mountains were extended a deadline till October 10 to contest the decision.

An intimate portrait of Thomas Hall, the supervisor of the Superior National Forest. A candid shot, capturing him in the midst of contemplation, signifying the weight of his decision on the Lutsen Mountains expansion. Taken with Sony α7R IV.

Adding an intriguing turn of events, last month, the resort requested the Forest Service to postpone their decision while it discussed concerns with three Ojibwe tribes, whose treaty rights are valid in the zone.

In a conciliatory move in May, the resort had signed a memorandum of understanding with the tribes, seeking to modify its proposal to form a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Despite these efforts, the company's promotion of increased skiing opportunities in conjunction with economic boons, such as enhanced tourism and job prospects, failed to convince Thomas Hall, supervisor of the Superior National Forest.

According to Hall, the potential negative consequences greatly overshadowed the anticipated benefits.