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Rib Mountain State Park

Property Master Plan

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is revising the 2005 master plan for Rib Mountain State Park.

The planning process will evaluate the full range of public uses occurring at the park, and habitat management opportunities. In addition, options for the future will be assessed, including the possibility of new recreation activities. The planning process will evaluate a potential expansion of the Granite Peak Ski Area.

FL_RibMountainSP_Observation_Tower.jpgPhoto courtesy of Greg Bouressa

Planning Update

The department has released an updated vision for Rib Mountain State Park along with draft goals, objectives and future management options. The department is seeking public input on the document from June 1 to June 30, 2022.

Read the Draft Vision, Goals, Objectives and Management Options for Rib Mountain State Park [PDF]

Have Your Voice Heard!

The department will be hosting a public open house meeting on the document:

Wednesday, June 22, 2022, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Northcentral Technical College – Center for Health Sciences Building (Room 1004A/B)
1000 W. Campus Drive, Parking Lot B, Wausau, WI

Department staff will give a presentation starting at 5:30 p.m. The meeting presentation will be broadcast on Zoom.


Watch the presentation via Zoom here.

In addition to the public meeting, the public is invited to submit comments by either filling out the online public input form or printing off and mailing in a short input form. The online form is more comprehensive and designed so that each person can comment on the topics they choose.

Public Input Form - Online (preferred)

Public Input Form - Mail-In [PDF]

Additional Information

This document is being released as part of a public input opportunity to gather ideas, perspectives, and feedback on what members of the public believe are appropriate management actions for the future. The input received on the draft vision, goals, objectives and management options will be used to help form the Rib Mountain State Park Draft Master Plan.

The department used multiple information sources to develop the document, including the existing master plan, initial public input, species and natural community surveys, the recently completed SE Group report, public input on that report, and staff expertise.

Paper copies of the document are also available at the Rib Mountain State Park office and the Wausau, Rothschild and Marathon City public libraries.

Management options for downhill skiing are not included in the document. In Summer 2021, the department received over 3,000 public comments on four alternatives for the ski area, including three that expanded the ski area beyond its current footprint. A summary of those comments can be found here. [PDF]

In the current public input period, the DNR is focused on other recreational uses and natural resource management options for the park.

Following completion of this public input period, the next document the department will release for public comment will be the Rib Mountain State Park Draft Master Plan. This next document will include management for all activities at the park, including downhill skiing.

Anticipated Next Steps in the DNR Planning Process

  • The DNR planning team will review the public input received on the draft vision, goals, objectives, and management options. The DNR anticipates posting a summary of comments received by August.
  • The department will work with climate and recreation experts on a process to gather and analyze data on projected future climate conditions and the associated impacts these changes will have on winter recreation activities. Although this process will evaluate several winter recreation activities throughout the state, it will have a specific emphasis on downhill skiing and Rib Mountain. This process will inform not only this master planning process, but other planning projects in the future.
  • The DNR planning team will then develop a draft master plan. The DNR anticipates releasing the draft master plan in the spring of 2023 and will seek public input at that point.

To ensure you stay up to date on the planning process, be sure to sign up for updates on the planning project by clicking the "Subscribe to receive updates on the Rib Mountain State Park Master Plan Revision" link above.

Where we are in the process

Process Process Description Public Input Opportunity
Background Information

Staff gather and synthesize background information about the property and region to help inform planning decisions. Typical information sources include existing plans and data, species and habitat inventories, surveys of visitors and their experiences, and input from local governments and partner groups. DNR staff summarize the background information in a series of documents for the public.

 
Initial Public Input

Jan. 22 to Feb. 22, 2020
A public open-house meeting was held locally to present information about Rib Mountain State Park and the broader region. The focus of the meeting was to gather public input about the park, the current and potential roles it plays or could play in the region, and issues to address in the planning process.

The public was able to provide input in-person or online.
Yes
Public Input On SE Group Report And Alternatives

June 14 to July 14, 2021
The DNR sought public input on the SE Group report and particularly on the alternatives they developed for future recreational uses at the park. The alternatives focus on downhill skiing and mountain biking. Yes
Develop Draft Goals And Options The DNR developed an updated vision for the state park along with draft goals, objectives and future management options. The sources used included: the SE Group report, public input on that report, existing master plan, initial public input, species and natural community surveys, and staff expertise.  
Public Input on the Draft Vision, Goals, Objectives and Management Options

June 1 to June 30, 2022
The DNR presents the draft goals and options and gathers public input and reactions. Yes
Assessment of climate change impacts on winter recreation

June to November 2022
The DNR will gather and analyze data on current and future climate trends and how climate change is projected to impact the future of winter recreation in Wisconsin. Particular emphasis will be on downhill skiing at Rib Mountain.  
Develop Draft Master Plan Staff will develop an initial Draft Master Plan using multiple information sources, including public input on the draft vision, goals, objectives and management options, background information, discussions with partners, and the expertise of property managers, fish and wildlife biologists, foresters, recreation specialists, climate scientists, and others.  
Public Input On Draft Master Plan Staff will present the Draft Master Plan and gather public input and reactions. Yes
Develop Proposed Master Plan Staff will modify the draft master plan as needed based on public input. This new version, referred to as the Proposed Master Plan, will be submitted to the Natural Resources Board (NRB) for its review and consideration.  
Natural Resources Board DNR presents the Proposed Master Plan to the NRB and seeks its approval of the plan. The Proposed Master Plan will be posted on the NRB website with the meeting agenda.

The NRB welcomes public input. Citizens may testify at NRB meetings or submit written comments about the plan. Instructions to provide input to the NRB can be found on the Public Participation Guidelines web page.
Yes

Background

A master plan for Rib Mountain State Park was completed in 2005. In February 2015, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board authorized the Department to undertake a master plan amendment process for the purpose of evaluating a potential expansion to the Granite Peak Ski Area. Although Granite Peak Ski Corporation has publicly shared its vision for expanding the ski hill area, the Department believes that a potential expansion should be evaluated in the broader context of the entire park and other recreational opportunities. As a result, at their October 2019 meeting, the Board directed the Department to undertake a holistic evaluation of the full range of recreational and habitat opportunities at Rib Mountain to ensure that the park continues to help support the ecological, social, and economic needs of the area.

The Park

The State Park was established in 1927 and centered on what, at the time, was believed to be Wisconsin's highest point - Rib Mountain. The park has grown in size and popularity over the years and now encompasses nearly 1600 acres and receives over 400,000 visitors annually. Except for the ski area, most of the park's public use areas and facilities are clustered on about 60 acres of the more level terrain at the mountain's top, which provides spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed several facilities at the park in the 1930s, including the first downhill ski runs and tow ropes. Over the years, a succession of ski hill operators have partnered with the Department to provide downhill skiing at Rib Mountain. Today, Granite Peak Ski Corporation leases 405 acres of park lands that provide alpine skiing and snowboarding opportunities under the terms of a 30-year lease signed in 2000.

Additional Information About Rib Mountain State Park Planning

Documents
Public Involvement
June 2021

The department sought public comments from June 14 to July 14, 2021, on a report developed by SE Group. The report evaluates existing and potential downhill skiing opportunities at RMSP. The report also provides an analysis of mountain biking needs and opportunities in the region, as well as alternatives for developing a network of trails at RMSP.

Just over 3,100 comments were submitted, all of which are posted here. DNR staff reviewed all the comments and prepared a summary of the public input.

Summary of Public Input on SE Group Report [PDF]

Comments Received:

January 2020

In January 2020, the department sought initial public ideas, perspectives and comments on the current and future recreational uses and habitat management actions at the property. Over 2,200 responses were received, all of which are posted here. DNR staff reviewed the comments and prepared a summary of the input and major themes.

Hard copy forms (these have been split into batches to reduce their size)

Batch 1 [PDF] Batch 4 [PDF] Batch 7 [PDF]
Batch 2 [PDF] Batch 5 [PDF] Batch 8 [PDF]
Batch 3 [PDF] Batch 6 [PDF] Batch 9 [PDF]
Public Involvement Plan (2019) [PDF]
Maps