DNR Let Lutsen Violations Slide

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources admits it repeatedly let the Lutsen Mountain ski resort draw more water from the state-protected Poplar River for snow-making than its 1964 permit allowed.

Minnesota Public Radio broke the story HERE.

The ski resort obtained a permit in 1964 to draw up to 12.5 million gallons of water a year from the river, a designated trout stream, in order to make snow for its ski runs. DNR documents show that water use reached 60 million gallons in 2001 and topped 100 million gallons in 2010. Lutsen officials say the water use was vital for meeting the demands of its skiers, and add they don’t believe it impacts fish in the river.

The DNR says drawing that amount of water does impact fish in the river, but admits to turning its back on violations of the 1964 permit. The agency admitted that the economic impact of the ski resort on the North Shore region prompted its reluctance to cite Lutsen Mountain for the violations. The DNR tried to persuade Lutsen Mountain to take water from Lake Superior instead of the Poplar River, but was told the plan was too expensive.

Lutsen Mountain is currently in compliance with the state thanks to a new law passed with the help of northeastern Minnesota lawmakers Tom Bakk and David Dill. The resort is currently allowed to take up to 150 million gallons a year from the river, until the law expire in five years.

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