Laura Schulte , USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Published 7:54 p.m. CT Dec. 6, 2016
RIB MOUNTAIN – Granite Peak Ski Area has released new details about its plan for expansion.
The plans include a second chalet, at the base of a new high-speed lift that will service new, beginner and intermediate runs, a detail not previously mentioned in the first expansion plan.
Charles Skinner, the owner of Granite Peak Ski Area, and Peter Biermeier, the expansion project manager talked with a USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Tuesday afternoon, going over what the expansion plan will entail should the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approve it.
“We started doing this more than three years ago, and our first step was to meet with the DNR and meet with our own engineers,” Skinner said. “And we came up with our own basic plan and that’s what you saw two years ago.”
The plan two years ago was taken back to the drawing board, but the ski area’s leaders have not before now released new details of how they would amend the plan to answer concerns raised by members of the public,such as water run-off at the base of the ski hill in the spring and light pollution from artificial lights that would illuminate the hill’s new ski slopes. The new plan will be unveiled Wednesday night, at a public meeting.
The new expansion plan will consist of a new “pod” of runs, said Skinner, which will add on about a dozen beginning and intermediate runs for the more inexperienced skier or snowboarder. The runs will affect only a very small part of the state natural area, 13 acres, as opposed to the nearly 50 acres it would have affected before. As a part of the new pod of runs, the ski area will add on a new high-speed lift and chalet that will house a ski school to complement the beginner runs.
The new plan also addresses the issues that the group Leave Rib Mountain Alone raised in regards to hiking trails. The expansion will add on new trails, to combat the closing of about two miles of trails, including the Turkey Vulture Trail and Homestead Trail, during the ski season (The trails would remain open when the ski resort is not). The expansion would also add a new trail head that would provide parking for no cost.
“In removing three months here, we’re hoping the trade-off is okay” Biermeier said of the trail system.
If the expansion is approved by the DNR, Skinner and Biermeier expect the project to take three to five years to complete. Beyond those five years, the ski area may see the addition of a ski-in ski-out resort 10 to 15 years down the line, but Skinner said Granite Peak will have to wait to see the results of the expansion.
The public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, in the Sundance Chalet at Granite Peak. The meeting will be open to all looking to learn more or voice concerns about the expansion.