DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Some state senators want to allow a northeastern Minnesota ski resort to tap a nearby river to make snow, overruling regulations regarding use of the waterway. But the bill to allow Lutsen Mountains resort to pump water from the Poplar River has its opposition.

The measure would allow 2 million gallons of water per day to be pumped from the North Shore River, regardless of water level and would overrule any Department of Natural Resources rules on use of the river water.

The Duluth News Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/is35td ) anglers and conservation groups oppose the bill, saying it would decimate fish and other wildlife populations by causing portions of the river to freeze in the winter.

But Charles Skinner, co-owner of Lutsen Mountains Corp., argues that pumping water doesn’t affect fish, and only adds up to 5 percent of the water in the river at that time of year. He said the portion of the river near the resort doesn’t attract a lot of fish.

The DNR and other groups are suggesting the resort use water from Lake Superior to make snow, but the company says that would be too expensive. Skinner said it can’t afford to spend “millions of dollars” to build a system that would pump water uphill from the lake.

Without the river water, “the ski hill can’t survive,” Skinner said. “No Midwest ski resort can survive without snowmaking water.”

Steve Persons, DNR area fisheries supervisor, said if the pumping was permitted, the increased ice that would form would hurt populations of brook trout, rainbow trout, salmon and “coaster” brook trout that migrate into the river from Lake Superior.

He said he isn’t sure what impact Lutsen’s water pumping has had in the past.

“We don’t have this situation with any other trout stream because it’s something we don’t allow,” Persons said.

Lutsen is the only commercial entity that’s allowed to pump water from a trout stream in winter. In 1986, the DNR gave Lutsen a permit to use up to 13 million gallons per winter, assuming there was enough flow to sustain the fish populations. This is an exception to a 1977 rule that bans surface water withdrawals from trout streams.

Lutsen has been violating its permit since 2001, pumping between 60 and 107 million gallons each season. Although the DNR has known of the violations since 2002, it hasn’t taken action against the company.

A Senate measure that includes the provision is now going to the full Senate. A similar bill in the House has not been considered yet.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (10)
  1. Patrick Shull says:

    Screw the resort. If they really want snow take it from the streets when they are being plowed and then throw it all over the mountain. Really this has to go to the Senate and waste more tax dollars on stupid stuff?? There is a lot more things that our senators and representatives can do. Oh never mind I forgot we are talking about the government they waste money 24/7 on dumber things like take trips to other parts of the world just to say hello.

  2. ??? says:

    So who cares about damaging the ecosystem because doing things the correct way would be “too expensive”. Well if you cannot run your business in a way that does not hurt the environment maybe it is not a good business to have. I await all your “liberal” comments.

    1. Swamp Rat says:

      I agree with your comments except keep the political labeling out of the mix. Common “ecologically green sense” would dictate that paying a little more now to do the right environmentally sound procedures to help the business will pay off in immeasurable financial ways in the future.

      Maybe this resort business has its head in the snow-pack. [or] Maybe this business doesn’t believe in the principle–“To make some green(backs) in the future you start investing in being “green” and “eco-friendly” now! Do you think that’s to much to ask or do?

  3. Pavel says:

    Somebody with interests in the resort has a “friend” on this Senate committee. Sounds familiar with one who did something similar last session. I think they threw him out last time around. Maybe do the same this time?

  4. Jonathan says:

    By no means am I normally a “defend the environment” kind of guy, but this is just ridiculous. There is no need to destroy a river to make snow…

  5. stace34 says:

    You shouldn’t be able to destroy the environment because it is too expensive to do things the right way. They should have been working towards an real solution once they started breaking the law by exceeding their permit amount of water.

  6. Kurt says:

    I want to know how BIG of a FINE this DORK is going to pay.
    I got a ticket for $80.00 for parking in the street.
    I vote for millions. That would be along the same scale of things.

  7. Jeff says:

    I think someone should be talking to the DNR?? That permit should be puller ASAP .. no other law abiding person would get by with that!

    I’m a skier but will no longer supprt Lutzen, I didn’t think it was so easy to pay off the DNR ???

  8. Swamp Rat says:

    Considering the rates &/or fees Lutsen Resort and related costs to go skiing up North, Lutsen can take water from Lake Superior and pass the slightly extra expense of doing so to the skiers.

    Leave the [semi-fragile] Poplar River eco-system alone! Don’t damage this wonderful resource and environ!!!

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