Photo Credit: Joe Herron
WWA is advocating for “no action” on this proposed ski area expansion and for the Forest Service to deny the special use permit request in entirety.
In Minnesota, backcountry skiers are fighting to protect their most coveted terrain. Moose Mountain, located on the Superior National Forest on the North Shore of Lake Superior, is the crown jewel of skiable terrain in Minnesota. Lutsen Mountains ski resort has applied for a special use permit to develop this public land in a massive and unnecessary resort expansion. The U.S. Forest Service is now accepting public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement — until October 25.
The proposal includes developing a total of 495 acres of public land with seven chairlifts, one surface lift, two new base facilities, a “mountain-top chalet,” two new snowmaking reservoirs, a reroute of the Superior Hiking Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail (SHT/NCNST), and 1,260 new parking spaces. (For context, the existing ski area currently has 200 parking spaces on private land.)
We’ve already seen it happen at Snow King (WY), despite significant community opposition. And we’re seeing a spate of similar proposals elsewhere, such as at Grand Targhee (WY/ID), Tamarack (ID), and Mission Ridge (WA).
Let’s help out our friends in Minnesota by asking the Forest Service to deny permission to Lutsen Mountains LLC to develop prime public lands for commercial use.
Let’s leave the forest as it is! Support the “no action” alternative (Alternative 1) when you submit your comments by Oct 25.
Moose Mountain is the most prominent feature in the state of Minnesota. From summit to base, it’s a clean 750 vertical feet. The south face offers an unparalleled consistency of slope, with a similar descent from any given drop-in point along the ridge. The top half of the mountain is forested with mature maples, making it skiable as is, and super skiable with some light clearing. The bottom half transitions to a dense forest of mixed conifer, sprinkled with open rock face clearings, offering backcountry-access terrain for everyone, from gentle slopes to huckable cliffs.
An Alternative Vision
Our friends at Superior Highland Backcountry, a Winter Wildlands Alliance Grassroots Group, have proposed an alternative vision—a sustainably hand-gladed, public-access sidecountry/backcountry ski area and a hut-to-hut system for winter touring—but because of the narrow “Purpose and Need for Action” statement (“to decide whether to issue a Special Use Permit for the project”), the Forest Service has declined to consider anything other than the two specific alternatives proposed for commercial resort expansion: develop more, or develop slightly less. Both alternatives are a bad idea. For backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, for equitable access to public lands, for wildlife, for the climate, for the local community. As written, the “No Action” alternative is the only alternative we can support.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was published by the Forest Service in September 2021. We have until October 25 to submit comments. Use the form below to personalize and submit your concerns directly to the Forest Supervisor (the decision-maker). Let’s urge the Forest Service to leave the backcountry the way it is.