Proposal maximizes use of current land and uses smallest amount possible to expand
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
For Immediate Release:
Wausau, Wisc. – Granite Peak, nestled amid Wausau’s majestic State Park landmark, is part of a long, proud history where residents worked together building the first downhill ski runs by hand. Rib Mountain has endured numerous ups and downs since 1937 when the ski area opened, and change could be on the horizon once again.
Granite Peak owner Charles Skinner has requested permission from the Wisconsin DNR to lease an additional 150 acres to expand runs westward and upgrade facilities. If approved by this summer, construction could begin in 2016.
The purpose of the expansion is to secure Granite Peak’s future as a top Midwest ski destination by offering families more of what they seek in the total ski experience. More intermediate runs, upgraded facilities, on-site lodging and skier services are key additions of the master plan. “To be a thriving ski destination today that exists long-term, we need to grow the ski area or we’ll risk going out of business like other small locations have,” Skinner said.
In recent decades approximately 300 ski areas in the U.S. have shut down because they were too small to survive.
Skinner and his management team unveiled the master plan in a press conference on Tuesday, December 16. While his focus was on the expansion and it’s benefits to customers and the community, including increased revenue and job creation, he also made environmental conservation a priority.
“A pristine environment is the foundation of a successful ski area. It’s also vitally important that we’re good stewards of the land so we can enjoy its beauty for generations,” Skinner said.
The proposal maximizes use of the existing land within the leased area of Rib Mountain State Park’s 1,628 acres. The expansion will use the smallest amount of land possible to increase size and scale of some of the runs to alleviate crowding. It also promises to minimize impact on the rest of the Park.
“The land does not contain any known endangered or sensitive species,” Skinner said, who intends on working closely with the Wisconsin DNR on the Park’s environmental priorities.
A preliminary review of DNR information on the Park reveals that the project will not make an ecological or archeological impact. Ski Area Best Management Practices, guidelines published by the USDA Forest Service, will be followed which include minimal impact clearing methods to eliminate disruption to the land or bodies of water, and steps will be taken to preserve wildlife and habitat.
Skinner explained that tree removal will only take place where necessary, and subsequent tree cuttings will be reused in the landscape. Timely planting of native vegetation and straw mulching of steep areas will aid in storm water management.
Energy conservation and waste reduction, a significant aspect of the development, has been acknowledged as an objective of Granite Peak for more than a decade already. New state-of-the-art snowmaking equipment that uses less water and energy efficient lighting have been offsetting energy consumption since 2000.
Green practices for new buildings, including an on-site lodge planned to go on 25 acres previously purchase in 2000, will be the rule along with waste stream management and composting. Other LEED, solar power and renewable initiatives will be under consideration.
The Granite Peak team sees the value in uncovering ways do more to enhance the ski areas while using fewer resources. Balancing the needs of outdoor recreation, the natural environment and the community is an ongoing goal of the Granite Peak master plan.
The tradition of skiing at Rib Mountain State Park dates back to 1937 when it was one of the first downhill ski parks in the country. Today, Granite Peak is a thrilling mountain rising 700 feet, the tallest vertical drop in Wisconsin, and offering 74 runs for beginners, intermediates and pros seeking moguls, terrain parks, steep chutes or wide-open runs.