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Great Lakes Article:

Take Action: Great Lakes Watershed Treasure is About to Fall. No matter where you live, we need you to take action today!

Posted From the Environmental Association for Great Lakes Education
07/10/2002

Spirit Mountain:
Sacred Native American Land/ Old Growth Forest/ Tourist Magnet
or just another bankrupt Golf Course and Hotel?


For facts about this issue, click here

Take Action! Let our elected officials know how you feel about this issue. Simply fill in the information below, maintain or change the letter, and click "submit". An instant fax will be sent in your name to Mayor Doty, and the entire Duluth City Council. In order for the council to recognize your comments, you must provide name and full mailing address. Required fields are indicated in YELLOW.

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Sprit Mountain Facts

 

Economic Facts: There are 42 golf courses in a 2-hour radius of Duluth. Local public golf courses are currently subsidized with $100,000/year of taxpayer money, because they don’t attract enough business (click here to learn more). A new high-end golf course is already being built near the Black Bear Casino, a location that will certainly draw visitors away from a Spirit Mountain course. In addition, this development violates a Land and Water Conservation contract between the City of Duluth and the State of MN, potentially causing Duluth to lose millions of dollars, including future city development grant funding (click here to learn more).

Historic Facts : A recent biological assessement of the area found that many of the trees that will be cut in this old growth forest have been overlooking Duluth's homes and families since before Duluth even existed as a city. For over a thousand years, the Anishinabe have used Spirit Mountain for Vision Quests, sky burials and other sacred ceremonies. In fact, Anishinabe prophecies note Spirit Mountain as one of seven sacred migration sites in the the entire Great Lakes basin (click here to learn more). The hillside also contains historical remains from early settlers' homesteads. Even famed Native American activist Winona LaDuke (Ralph Nader's running mate in the 2000 Election) has spoken out against the golf course with hopes of protecting this sacred Native American land. Innovative cities across the U.S. are finding that preserving such unique treasures and creatively advertising them, makes for a highly lucrative venue of eco-tourism.

Environmental Facts : This development will destroy the largest plot of old growth forest of its kind left in Minnesota. The development will negatively impact diverse wetlands and Stewart Creek, one of the few thriving trout streams left in the Duluth area. Pale Sedge, an endangered plant has also been discovered on Spirit Mountain. This plant is only known in 2 other places in Minnesota. 4 other rare species were also recently found on the site where the golf course would be built. This unique forest also provides critical habitat for thousands of songbirds, deer, and other wildlife (click here to learn more).

Unmitigated stormwater runoff from the course will increase the probability of flooded basements, shifting foundations, etc. in homes between Spirit Mountain and the St. Louis River. The golf course will use a variety of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides including 2-4D, one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange (click here for more information). These toxins will ultimately end up in local streams, fish and drinking water. Although this scenic area is now low-cost and/or free for citizens to use for hiking, horse-back riding, bird watching, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and other outdoor activities. Once the golf course is built, it will cost as much as $80 per person just to stand on public land that citizens of Duluth currently own.


  • For links to over 20 articles posted on this issue, click here
  • For more information about this issue, visit the Izaac Walton League's Website

The Deadline Has Arrived: (The following is an excerpt from a Northland Reader article: July 11, 2002): Monday night the Duluth City Council voted 5-4 NOT to approve work permits for the proposed development of a golf course and hotel on Spirit Mountain. 65 people spoke at the meeting and around 200 citizens rallied outside City Hall before the meeting to protest the golf course.

Mayor Doty is expected to veto the City Council's vote. The Council will then have a chance to veto his veto, or the work permits will be approved by default Aug. 1.

The Council needs 6 votes to be able to do override Doty’s veto. At this point, there are only 5 councilors who’d vote to override Doty’s veto (Stewart, Stover, Gilbert, Ness and Bergson). Councilors Stauber or Stenberg will not vote against the golf course, as they were both Chamber of Commerce backed candidates during the last election---and the Chamber is a proponent of this project. Councilor Atkins won’t vote against the golf course either, as he was Chamber backed AND received over $1,000 in donations for his campaign from Spirit Ridge LLC.

It seems the future of Spirit Mountain rests in the hands of Councilor Ken Hogg. The tricky thing is that Hogg may be running for Mayor in a year, and he’s smart enough not to want to create any waves in either direction. So he’s been trying to stay neutral on this issue. But what every voter needs to realize, is that if Hogg chooses not to vote in either direction, it’s the same thing as voting FOR the golf course. Without that 6th vote, the permit is approved by default.

In other words, citizens of Duluth have less than 3 weeks to show Councilor Hogg that they support him in his decision to vote against a project that, first and foremost, is illegal; a project that will take money away from Duluth’s municipal golf courses (which are already suffering); a project that certainly won’t be able to compete with the new Cloquet golf course (conveniently situated next to a casino ); a project that will give Duluth a horrible reputation for not respecting Native Americans or the natural environment; and a project that will suffer a worse economic fate than Giants Ridge, while leaving the side of a sacred mountain permanently scarred, along with the hearts of Hogg’s constituents.

This is your opportunity to express your support for a smart decision. Even if you want the golf course, you can change the online letter to show your feelings. Just let Hogg know what the people want. After all, his job is to serve as the voice of the people. Even if you’re a tourist, you should let your opinion be known—do you vacation here because you’re sick of the 200 golf courses in the Twin Cities, or because Duluth holds a natural beauty unlike anywhere else in the Midwest?

If you'd rather not use this form, Councilor Hogg’s email is khogg@ci.duluth.mn.us, his phone number is 727-4780, and his mailing address is 1001 Bong Blvd. 55811. Don’t get down on the guy. He’s done nothing wrong----be supportive of the fact that HE’S ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING INCREDIBLY RIGHT. And when he does, he’ll be one step closer to sitting in the Mayor’s chair.

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