Lutsen Gains Water Rights, Needs Long-Term Solution

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SAM Magazine-Lutsen, Minn., Nov. 16, 2011-Lutsen Mountains recently gained a variance from the state's department of natural resources (DNR) to draw snowmaking water from the nearby Poplar River, even though the waterway has dropped below minimum flow levels. The decision, which the DNR says only applies for the next three years, has drawn criticism from environmentalists, who point to potential adverse impacts on the designated trout stream. The DNR cited "just cause" (i.e., economic stability) in granting the variance.

Lutsen reportedly has been exceeding its permitted draw for years. The long-term solution, all parties agree, is to tap Lake Superior and its nearly endless supply of water. However, Lutsen president Charles Skinner has said that the cost of a pipeline, roughly $2 million to $3 million, is more than the resort can bear. He's asking the state to help underwrite the cost.