The ski is mightier than the rod

Correction: an earlier version of this post made mention of Lutsen Resort. That company is not related to Lutsen Mountain Corp. which operates Lutsen Mountain ski area and resort.

The Minnesota House has approved a bill that would allow Lutsen Mountain Corp., which operates Lutsen Mountains ski area and resort, to pump up to two million gallons of water per day out of the Poplar River. The move has angered conservationists that assert the draw down of the river will threaten trout populations.

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The Lutsen measure is a provision of the invasive species bill.

The ski area has defied Department of Natural Resource regulations since 2001 when it continued to pump water out of the Poplar beyond permitted amounts. The Duluth News Tribune reports that the pumping continued without DNR enforcement action.

Pumping river water is an easy and cheap way for the resort to make artificial snow. But during the long and cold North Shore winter, portions of the river with low water can freeze so deeply that it could decimate organisms including fish.

The Pioneer Press reports that "Lutsen is the only commercial operation in the state that's allowed to pump water from a trout stream in winter." If the bill is signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton, Lutsen's authority to pump the water from the river will be reviewed by the legislature in five years.

More details on the bill and the pumping operations are available in Wednesday's Greater Minnesota Morning Report.

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