There is a little state park in my town, Rib Mountain State Park. It’s not technically a mountain being just shy by about 58 feet but at an elevation of 1,942 feet above sea level it is the highest ‘hill’ in Wisconsin and so also has a ski area – The Granite Peak Ski Area. It currently has 72 ski runs of various difficulties, making it a destination of some renown in the state.
I do not object to the recreational aspects of the ski hill. It gets people out of their house and into the fresh air especially when winter weather blows in and tends to move us into our hibernation mode, keeping us close to home and hearth. Skiing is not my thing. But I do love being outdoors, I love all the season’s including winter (I am not one of the hibernators) and I understand passion. Some enthusiasts wait all year for the ski season. I do not have an issue with people skiing; in fact I embrace their enjoyment of the outdoors.
I do however object to the new proposal of adding 155 acres to the current 400 acres Granite Peak Ski Area already occupies within the borders of my state park. I object the added ski runs. (The ski runs presently are contained to one side of the hill – the proposal will utilize both sides of the park) Ski runs cost trees, many more trees. They cost the loss of, or relocation of hiking trails. It costs the beauty of a night sky, muted by lights needed to illuminate the runs. I object to the resort that is being planned that will be detrimental to the availability of ground water for the community nestled in the shadow of Rib Mountain and the dislocation of wildlife and rare plants of the area.
It is a State Park. It has value just being. Profit margins that go to private companies should have no bearing on what piece of my park gets sold under the guise of ‘betterment of the community’.
Some will say it will bring more tourists into the city of Wausau and surrounding areas to use hotels, restaurants etc. It will employ ‘X’ amount of people and be good for the local economy. Maybe.
To that I say ‘Hooie!’ I know that might be unpopular and I simply don’t care.
Rib Mountain State Park and the Granite Peak Ski area are fairly balanced in respect to having something for everyone and everything that lives on her, but with each foot of land that is sold it tips towards the commercial. Towards a very un-park like setting of a city on a mountain. Towards oblivion for a little piece of the wild.
Rib Mountain is not a ‘wild’ place. I have been blessed to be in truly wild places and it comes up a little short but what it does allow for is place of inspiration, allows for a reprieve from the noise and fumes of urban life (no matter how small that urban life is), for a place to recharge our soul and spend a little time where the mind wonders among the natural living things.
Not everything requires a monetary profit. Not everything of value can be measured in dollars, cents and economic gains. There are those things valued that are known only to the heart, to the spirit. The priceless, irreplaceable corners of the wild-our National and State Parks.