WAUSAU - An early morning chairlift to the top of Granite Peak in Wausau had a dual purpose for Safety and Professional Services Secretary-designee Dawn Crim.
Along with Gov. Tony Evers, Crim got a closer look Thursday at preparations for the winter season. The duo also inspected ski lift machinery.
"All of the mechanics are working and he puts his stamp on it, he puts his stamp on our department and we put our stamp on the people," said Crim.
The Granite Peak workers who accompanied Evers and Crim on their inspection are among nearly 170,000 in Wisconsin employed because of outdoor recreation. The industry generates 17.9 billion in consumer spending year round.
"Ski areas I think provide a real solid anchor for winter tourism and enable tourism to be much more year round and sustainable," said Granite Peak owner Charles Skinner.
Soon, year round tourism will be a greater focus at Granite Peak. The state Natural Resources Board approved a revision of the Rib Mountain State Park master plan just last week.
"There's potential opportunities here for expansion of other outdoor recreation opportunities like mountain biking, additional hiking in addition to additional ski runs," said DNR section chief Missy VanLanduyt.
Granite Peak requested more than 150 acres for additional runs nearly five year ago. Evers said Thursday he says "can't imagine why we wouldn't want that expansion."
Ski season at Granite Peak launches November 16.