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Superior National Forest Lutsen Mountains Ski Area Expansion Project Notice of Intent to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement

Duluth, MN  –  On April 15th, 2020, a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement for the Lutsen Ski Area Expansion Project was published in the Federal Register. This publication date was earlier than anticipated, therefore project scoping documents are not currently available. To address this error, the Superior National Forest will publish a correction in the Federal Register with an updated scoping comment period and update the forest website with scoping materials at that time. The public will be notified when this occurs. The original NOI also indicated that one public open house meeting would be held; however, in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States and the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation for social distancing and avoiding large public gatherings, a public meeting will not be scheduled during the scoping period.

Lutsen Mountains Corporation (LMC) applied to the Superior National Forest (SNF) for a special use permit (SUP) to construct, operate, and maintain an expansion to a winter sports resort onto approximately 495 acres of National Forest System (NFS) lands located near Lutsen, Minnesota.

The EIS will inform the Forest Service in deciding whether to grant a SUP for the project, under the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986.  The analysis in the EIS will evaluate the special use permit’s potential impacts of construction, maintenance, and operation of a ski resort on NFS lands and if granted, determine what stipulations are needed to protect NFS lands.

LMC’s proposed project and SUP application address existing constraints and conditions and further improve the skiing experience at Lutsen Mountains.  LMC’s overall intent of the proposed projects and associated SUP application is to improve the guest experience at Lutsen Mountains on the north shore of Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota.  The proposed activities cannot be accommodated on adjacent private land controlled by LMC.

LMC’s proposal includes the following components:
  • Authorization of an approximately 495-acre Special Use Permit.
  • Construction of seven new chairlifts and one surface lift.
  • Development of about 324 acres of additional ski terrain, including approximately 175 acres of developed ski trails and about 149 acres of gladed terrain.
  • Expansion of guest services including two new base facilities, maintenance facilities, and a mountain-top chalet.
  • Expansion of ski patrol operations, including construction of a ski patrol duty station.
  • Development of approximately 1,260 additional parking spaces, construction of approximately 5 miles of permanent access roads, and construction of approximately 0.9 miles of temporary access roads.
  • Installation of snowmaking coverage on about 175 acres of developed ski trails and construction of two snowmaking reservoirs with a combined capacity of approximately 13 million gallons.
In considering SUP applications such as this ski area expansion proposal, the Superior National Forest strives to:
  • Continue to administer a recreation special use program providing for recreation uses associated with the existing resorts, residences, camps and other recreation special uses. Recreation special uses will continue where their use enhances the recreation potential of the area, meets an apparent public need, and is compatible with other multiple-use goals and objectives
  • Contribute to local-scale social and economic vitality by promoting and/or protecting rare cultural values, traditional employment, recreation opportunities, historical landscape features, commodity related natural resources, and aesthetic qualities of the forest.
  • Improve the capability of the Forest to provide diverse high quality outdoor recreation opportunities.

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