GRANITE PEAK expansion opposition GROWS

The local environmental advocacy group Leave Rib Mountain Alone has gathered more than 3,500 signatures to stop a proposed expansion of Granite Peak Ski Area.


B.C. Kowalski/City Pages

Granite Peak snow machines stand at the ready for this season. The ski area will present its revamped plans to expand at a public meeting at 6 pm on Dec. 7 at Granite Peak’s lodge.

The ski hill announced expansion plans in late 2014 to make the area more marketable with additional ski runs and amenities, including slope-side lodging. Owner Charles Skinner wants to lease from the state 150 acres in addition to the roughly 400 he now uses for 74 runs, all in Rib Mountain State Park.

Critics are concerned about the environmental impact the expansion might have, says Nancy Anderson, who spearheads the advocacy group. Those concerns include how much water will be drawn from the nearby Rib River for snowmaking, potential impact to endangered species, trail impact and the effect of noise and light pollution on residents near the ski hill.

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But Peter Biermeier, project manager for the Granite Peak expansion, says no existing hiking trails, and a minimal number of trees, will be removed for the expansion. Trails such as Turkey Vulture, which the runs will cross, will continue to be open outside of ski season. The mountain will put back 90% of the water it draws for snowmaking, he says, and no endangered species will be impacted. Even the foundations of old homesteads of Marathon County’s first settlers will be preserved, with a possible new markers to tell people their history. None of the rock formations will be altered either, Biermeier says.

Granite Peak will reveal its revamped plans at a public meeting at 6 pm on Dec. 7 at Granite Peak. Biermeier says he plans to reach out to the group to invite them and hopefully alleviate their concerns.