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State and local organizations weigh in on proposed Lutsen Mountains expansion

Lutsen Mountains ski area. Photo by Jaye White
Lutsen Mountains ski area. Photo by Jaye White

Public comments, community discussion and various levels of communication between local and federal agencies continues to take place regarding the proposed expansion of Lutsen Mountains, a ski resort on the North Shore.
 
A public comment period on the proposed expansion ends at midnight on Thursday, Dec.  9.
 
Meanwhile, a number of local and state organizations continue to weigh in on the proposed expansion of the local ski resort, including the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) and the Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District Board (SWCD).
 
Lisa Luokkala is the executive director of the SHTA. The nonprofit organization submitted a public comment on Nov. 4 to the U.S. Forest Service about the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) regarding the proposed expansion of Lutsen Mountains. The proposed expansion, as it reads now, would impact the Superior Hiking Trail and cause a reroute of the trail.
 
Among the SHTA’s concerns over the project are who would pay for the reroute of the trail and where the new section of trail would be if the expansion of Lutsen Mountains were to move forward. As it stands now, it remains unclear if Lutsen Mountains would cover some or all of the costs associated with the reroute of the Superior Hiking Trail, Luokkala said.
 
The Cook County Soil & Water Conservation District submitted a public comment to the U.S. Forest Service for an environmental impact statement regarding the proposed expansion of Lutsen Mountains ski resort near the Poplar River and Lake Superior.
 
A majority of the concerns listed and questions asked by Cook County SWCD focus on stormwater runoff, melting snowpack and erosion, according to Ilena Hansel the district Manager for the Cook County SWCD.
 
An organization known as the SE Group put together the draft EIS for the Forest Service. Their work, and the EIS, is paid for by Lutsen Mountains. The EIS indicates there will be marginal impact to the Poplar River watershed, but there will be to other areas that flow toward Lake Superior, including the Rollins Creek watershed.
 
Below is an interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs speaking with Hansel about the submitted comments from Cook County SWCD.

 
 
Below is the full interview with Lisa Luokkala, the executive director of the Superior Hiking Trail Association.