The largest downhill skiing area in the Midwest is seeking to nearly double the size of its operations, including a lease of 400 acres of Forest Service land in the Sawtooth Mountains of northern Minnesota.
Lutsen is seeking a Special Use Permit to allow the expansion. Public meetings will be held on June 1 in Lutsen and Duluth.
The expansion would increase skiable terrain from 180 to 320 acres, including new beginner and intermediate runs. There would also be additional parking areas and skier services.
“To ensure the sustainability of the ski area, Lutsen Mountains will need to continue investment in facilities and infrastructure to remain competitive in the destination ski area market,” the company says.
The plan “appears to be ‘viable,'” Kris Reichenbach, spokeswoman for the Superior National Forest, told the Duluth News Tribune.
Private ski areas on public lands are common in the Western United States. At least 122 ski resorts operate on National Forests, primarily in the Rocky Mountains region. The list includes famous areas like Vail, Aspen, Snowbird, and Mammoth, according to Your National Forests magazine. Lutsen would pay a fee to lease the land.
The Superior National Forest is beginning the environmental review process which could take up to three years. The public will have opportunities to weigh in as the agency reviews the project. Informational meetings hosted by the ski resort will be held June 1:
- 10 a.m. to noon: Summit Chalet at Lutsen Mountains in Lutsen, MN
- 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Pier B Resort in Duluth, MN