Forest Service Issues Decision on Lutsen Mountains Ski Area Expansion
Duluth, Minn.,— The USDA Forest Service – Superior National Forest is issuing a draft decision on the proposed 495-acre Lutsen Ski Hill Proposed Expansion Area along with a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Based on findings through the National Environmental Policy Act process and Tribal consultation, the Superior National Forest is proposing to select the ‘No Action’ Alternative and will not be approving the permit application.
“Through input from the public and partners, consultation with our local Tribes, along with the environmental analysis, the Forest made a decision of ‘No Action’ for the Lutsen Ski Hill Proposed Expansion Area,” said Tom Hall, Superior National Forest Supervisor, “The NEPA process is designed to include public engagement to ensure federal actions consider all relevant information and potential impacts of a proposed project prior to approving a project. This information and the analysis informed our decision.”
The draft Record of Decision and Final EIS are available for review today; however, we anticipate the legal notice will publish in the Duluth News Tribune on August 26, 2023, which officially begins the 45-day objection period.
A Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Draft EIS was published in the Federal Register on September 10, 2021. A 45-day extension of the normal 45-day comment period was granted, resulting in a 90-day comment period that remained open until December 9, 2021. Notification of the Draft EIS availability was distributed to approximately 447 interested individuals, government officials (including tribal contacts), public agencies, and other organizations. Virtual public meetings were held on October 5 and November 16, 2021. The Forest received 1,005 comment submittals.
Based on the analysis, substantive comments and tribal consultation, several significant factors led to the no action decision, including impacts to tribal resources and access, potential effects to numerous natural and cultural resources specific to this unique area, negative impacts to the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) users and backcountry skiers, impacts to the adjacent Lutsen Scientific and Natural Area, and a variety of natural resource impacts, including hydrology, water quality and quantity.