State ski pass law is changed

This article submitted on 1/5/00.

During the last state legislative session the laws requiring a ski pass were changed. The change eliminates the need for the pass except on trails receiving state funding for maintenance and grooming. The Legislature also raised the price of the individual passes for the first time since 1981. The new prices are $3 for a daily pass and $10 for an annual pass. There are no joint husband and wife passes anymore.

Stearns County
In Stearns County that means that the ski pass is no longer required for three Stearns County parks: Mississippi River County Park, Warner Lake County Park, and Quarry Park and Nature Preserve.

Each of these parks has about 4.5 miles of groomed ski trail. Quarry Park has a two-mile loop groomed specifically for the "skate skier." All other county trails are groomed for the more traditional stride skier.

The former ski pass law required the pass on any trail that had received state acquisition funds or improvement funds and was groomed for skiing. In the state of Minnesota, that left very few parks where a ski pass would not have been needed if ski trails were included in the park. The importance of the law change is that it now links grooming to the purchase of the ski pass. If Stearns County decides in the future that there are maintenance funds it can access for trail grooming, the county could consider applying for funds, but then the ski pass would be required.

For this season, and if there is any snow, the only ski trail requiring the ski pass is the Wildwood Trail, west of St. Joseph just off County Road 51. Wildwood is a state Grant-in-Aid trail that provides a seasonal public trail across private property. The presence of the Wildwood Trail depends on the public respecting the right of the landowner on whose property the trail is located. The Wildwood Trail also is available due to the hard work of the Nordic Ski Club of Central Minnesota, which built and maintains the trail. Maps of county operated ski trails may be obtained from Stearns County Parks at 320-255-6172.

Sibley State Park
A ski pass is required in Sibley State Park, as it is in all state parks. Sibley has 12 miles of cross-country ski trails. There are 10 miles of trails for the traditional stride skier and two miles of trails for the skate skier.

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