DNR Trail Maintenance Forecast

Looking Ahead
Cross-Country Ski Trails
DNR Maintenance Forecast

By Megan Huls
Trails Reporter

If you’re a true Minnesotan, you’re looking forward to the possibility of several feet of white stuff covering the earth this winter. And if you’re a true cross-country skier, you’re hoping the trails will be ready and continually maintained for a long season.

Several trails throughout the state, nearly 700 miles worth, are maintained through the DNR Cross-Country Ski Trails Grant-in-Aid Program, which was created by the State Legislature in 1973 and is funded from the sale of cross-country ski trail passes. Ski passes are required on state forest lands, state trails, state park trails, and all Grant-in-Aid trails. Ski passes are available for one day ($5), a year ($15) or three years ($40).

“Buying a ski pass is an investment in the sport of skiing because funds are used to build and maintain trails,” said Andrew Korsberg with the Minnesota DNR Trails and Waterways Division.

Ski passes can be purchased in a number of ways including electronic licensing systems, over the phone, in person, on the internet, at most state parks and by mail. Please visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses/skipass/index.html for more information on purchasing a ski pass.

“Nearly $200,000 is available this year for maintenance and grooming grants,” said Korsberg. Half of those funds will be used to set up trails before the snow falls, fixing and erecting signs, repairing trail corners, etc.

Since the past few winters have lacked adequate snow for great skiing conditions, funds have been rolled over to the current year, providing enough to aid in several different areas.

The purpose of the DNR Cross-Country Ski Trail Grant-in-Aid Program is to encourage the maintenance and development of cross-country ski trails throughout the state. Eligible projects include cross-country ski trail development, maintenance, winter grooming and trail administration, among others. Bodies who may apply for aid include counties, cities, townships and private trail organizations sponsored by a local unit of government.

First priority is given to the maintenance of existing Grant-in-Aid trails. Second priority is given to projects which link population centers, recreation and service facilities. Third priority is given to the development of new trail systems or significant additions to existing systems.

The level of assistance from the program is cost sharing up to 65% of total eligible costs. Winter trail grooming is cost shared up to 90% of total eligible costs.

Last year, state parks set up the first tier directing resources to Itasca, Lake Bemidji, Gooseberry Falls, Tettegouche, Cascade River, Jay Cooke, William O’Brien, Wild River, Afton, Lake Maria, Mille Lacs Kathio and Sibley. These parks are recognized as top skiing destinations since they are the most visited and used.

A second group of 18 parks was identified as second tier offering very good ski conditions on weekends at Split Rock Lighthouse, Bear Head Lake, McCarthy Beach, Savanna Portage, Lake Carlos, Maplewood, Banning, St. Croix, Crow Wing, Fort Snelling, Minnesota Valley Rec Area, Frontenac, Forestville, Sakatah Lake, Nerstrand Big Woods, Camden, Minneopa and Flandrau.

This year, the DNR hopes to expand its tier two skiing opportunities. The state received a $48,000 grant from the Federal Recreational Trail Program, which was matched by another $48,000 from DNR Trails and Waterways, for a total of $96,000 that will be available for grooming equipment. With this grant, new equipment will be purchased as well as improvements made to current equipment, allowing high quality grooming and some trails with lighted skiing.

The DNR is also soliciting capital improvements through the Grant-in-Aid Program with $50,000 available for special projects such as rehab on current ski trails, building or maintenance of bridges, construction of warming shelters, etc. These projects will be funded by $25,000 from the sale of Ski Passes and a $25,000 grant from the Federal Recreational Trail Program.

So if great skiing conditions is on the top of your winter wish list, start doing your snow dances because the trails will be ready!

For more information, please visit www.dnr.state.mn.us

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