Vision for sustainable ski resort development taking shape on the Kenai Peninsula; new website launched for Manitoba Mountain project
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Mountain Rider’s Alliance is generating some buzz about its planned low-impact Alaska ski area restoration project with the launch of a new website.
SkiManitoba.com is giving some shape to the dream of a sustainable ski area development model for the 21st century, and the alliance intends to file a formal application this coming October.
As outlined on the website, Manitoba Mountain involves restarting a ski area in the Kenai Mountains on the Chugach National Forest that last operated in the 1960s. Three surface lifts would access about 10,000 acres of terrain and a focus on renewable energy production as part of the project includes exploring micro-hydropower and wind-generated electricity. The long-term goal is to make the area energy self-sufficient and perhaps even a net producer of renewable energy.
According to the MRA website, the Manitoba project embodies a new philosophy of ski area development based on core skiing and community values, including a collaborative operating partnership with local businesses to increase job opportunities.
During the past few months, project manager Dave Scanlan conducted seven community outreach presentations.
“The project was generally well received by the local communities. We appreciate everyone taking the time to join us as well as their informative feedback. We will be implementing the information gained into our master plan,” Scanlan said.
Scanlan and other members of the Mountain Rider’s Alliance have also met with government agencies to discuss a roadmap through the permitting process. Scanlan describes some of the early steps in the process in a video at the Manitoba Mountain website.
According to the Alaska Lost Ski Areas Project, Manitoba Mountain once had as many as three rope tows, with longest running about 1,200 feet. The first lifts were probably built by residents of Seward, about 50 miles south of the area. A wealth of historical information and pictures are online at the lost ski areas Manitoba web page.
The Mountain Rider’s Alliance plans to rely partly on a membership model, with investment shares being sold to the global ski community. Some funding could come from sponsorship deals with like-minded companies, and the group also hopes to tap into federal, state and local grants, as well as incentives and tax credits, for alternative energy projects.
Environmental sustainability is one of the organization’s core values. Here’s an excerpt from the MRA website:
“Access to new terrain will be based on a thought-out approach of building the least amount of lifts possible, but at the same time accessing the most amount of terrain. At the top of our environmental goals: restoring public lands instead of harming them; working with the natural landscape instead of creating clear cuts or erosion-causing scars; and helping to preserve forest and wildlife habitat as well as water quality and the natural aesthetic beauty of the mountain.
“It is our promise that if a tree has to be removed, two will be planted. MRA mountain playgrounds will act in harmony with their environment, not exploit it.”
Click here to see numerous news articles on the MRA and the Manitoba project.
Filed under: business, economy, Environment, recreation, renewable energy, ski industry, Ski Resorts, skiing and riding, Summit County news Tagged: | Alaska, Chugach Mountains, Kenai Peninsula, Manitoba Mountain, Mountain Rider's Alliance, ski industry, skiing, Summit County News, sustainability