(WAUSAU)-The Wis Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is in the process of 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 to ensure that the park continues to help support the ecological, social and economic needs of the area. In addition, options for the future are being assessed, including, possibly, new recreation activities.
The planning process stalled in early 2020, when the COVID public health emergency required the DNR’s Parks program to redirect funding which was allocated to hire an independent consultant to develop information and alternatives for downhill skiing and mountain biking at the park. The Greater Wausau Prosperity Partnership, Ltd. offered to support the efforts of the WDNR and was able to raise the necessary funds through public and private contributions.
The SE Group, in collaboration with IMBA Trail Solutions, was engaged in the development of an impartial Mountain Recreation Needs Assessment, including alternatives that consider alpine skiing and mountain biking options, as well as an analysis of a “no-change” alternative. The SE Group has expertise in analyzing downhill skiing, identifying needs, constraints and opportunities, and crafting a range of feasible alternatives. It also has access to expertise in mountain bike trail design, needs assessment and alternatives development.
Following a 6-month process, the SE Group plans to submit the final report to the WDNR in mid-June. The department will be updating their website to include the completed report. In addition, the DNR will be seeking public input on the information within the SE Group report and the potential alternatives the consultant has developed. The public comment period will run from June 14 to July 14, 2021. The anticipated next steps in the planning process can be found by visiting the WDNR’s website: https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/fl/PropertyPlanning/RibMtn
In the development of the Greater Wausau Region Economic Development Strategic Plan , a five-year roadmap comprised of actions and strategies to guide the region’s growth and competitiveness, TIP Strategies, a nationally recognized consulting firm, proposed marketing the Greater Wausau Region as the Outdoor Recreation Mecca of the Midwest as a key strategy to attract and retain a skilled workforce and innovative companies.
“The potential to expand year-round recreation at Rib Mountain State Park presents a key alignment with the initiatives of the strategic plan and a timely opportunity to leverage our distinct natural assets to attract outsiders, spur economic growth and further enable the area to reach its full potential as a hub for outdoor recreation.” said Dave Eckmann, President of the Greater Wausau Prosperity Partnership, Ltd. “It is vital that we continue to develop quality places and build upon our already diverse menu of outdoor amenities including the world-class Wausau Whitewater Park, Nine-Mile County Forest, and other local jewels.”