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Fee to ski on state cross country ski trails?

Wed, Jun  1, 2011 - By Mike Muha

Bill would require purchase of a permit to ski on state cross country ski trailsA bill introduced by introduced by Michigan Rep. Steven Lindberg (D) on February 17, 2011 would require cross country skiers to . The permit cost would be $5 per day, $20 for an annual permit, or $40 for a three-year permit, plus a $1 transaction fee for license agents. The money would go into a new state skiways fund to pay for trail maintenance, grooming and acquisition (unless a majority of the legislature voted to used it for other government spending). Skiing on a state trail without a pass would subject to a $50 civil fine.

According to a letter published in The Mining Journal, the Friends of Blueberry Ridge originally worked with Rep. Steven Lindberg in 2010 to help draft a cross-country ski pass bill to provide for more dependable funding for the cross country ski trails. That bill died when the House Appropriations Committee did not have time to consider it before the end of the legislative session.

Says the Friends of Blueberry Ridge Board:

The bill, as drafted, would require that skiers carry a ski pass, similar to a hunting or fishing license, when using state forest cross-country trails such as Blueberry Ridge. Statewide season ski passes, good at any state forest cross-country ski trail, would sell for $20, and daily passes for $5. Monies received would be dedicated to maintaining, grooming and improving the ski trails. Passes likely would be available through the many hunting and fishing license dealers throughout the state.

We have gained solid support for this bill from cross-country ski businesses, the Marquette County Commission, the DNR's Western U.P. Citizens Advisory Council, the U.P. Sportsmen's Alliance and many other groups and individuals. It is important to note that supporters include hunting and fishing groups, which historically have contributed the bulk of funds that have indirectly benefited skiers and others.

We ask you to indicate your support for this ski pass bill by e-mailing stevenlindberg@house.mi.gov.

In the past, the state has relied on the General Fund and on pay-pipe donations. The former have dried up and the latter never produced significant funds.

The bill was referred to the House Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Committee on February 17, 2011. You may track the progres of House Bill No. 4299 here.

HOUSE BILL No. 4299

February 17, 2011, Introduced by Reps. Lindberg and Slavens and referred 
to the Committee on Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation. A bill to amend 1994 PA 451, entitled "Natural resources and environmental protection act," by amending section 72101 (MCL 324.72101), as amended by 2010 PA 46, and by adding sections 72121, 72122, 72123, 72124, and 72125. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT: Sec. 72101. As used in this part: (a) "Advisory council" means the Michigan snowmobile and trails advisory council created in section 72110. (b) "Council" means a Michigan trailway management council established pursuant to section 72106. (c) "Cross-country ski trail" means a trailway suitable for cross-country skiing. (d) "Cross-country skiing" means traveling over snow by human power on skis. Cross-country skiing does not require the use of lifts, tows, or other mechanical devices. (e) (c) "Department" means the department of natural resources and environment. (f) (d) "Equine access locations" means open access roads, management roads, forestry access roads, 2-track and single-track trails that are not wildlife paths, staging areas for pack and saddle animals to be dropped off or picked up, and associated wilderness campsites. (g) (e) "Fund" means the Michigan trailways fund created in section 72109. (h) (f) "Governmental agency" means the federal government, a county, city, village, or township, or a combination of any of these entities. (i) "Michigan skiway" means a cross-country ski trail designated by the commission under section 72121. (j) (g) "Michigan trailway" means a trailway designated by the commission pursuant to section 72103. (k) (h) "Pack and saddle trailways" means trailways and equine access locations that may be used by pack and saddle animals. (l) (i) "Rail-trail" means a former railroad bed that is in public ownership and used as a trailway. (m) (j) "Trail" means a right-of-way adapted to foot, horseback, motorized, or other nonmotorized travel. (n) (k) "Trailway" means a trail or other land corridor that features a broad trail capable of accommodating a variety of public recreation uses. Sec. 72121. (1) The commission shall establish a network of Michigan skiways in the state. Michigan skiways may be located on Michigan trailways, on trailways on state owned land, or on other public or private land under agreement between the department and the landowner. (2) While skiing on a Michigan skiway, a person 16 years of age or older shall carry in his or her immediate possession a valid, signed cross-country ski pass. A cross-country ski pass must be signed by the skier across the front of the pass to be valid and becomes nontransferable upon signing. The ski pass shall be available for inspection by any peace officer. A landowner who grants an easement for a Michigan skiway is not required to possess a ski pass when skiing on the landowner's property. (3) A participant in a cross-country ski race or an official school activity is not required to be in possession of a cross- country ski pass if a special use permit authorizing the event has been obtained by the organizers of the event or those in an official capacity from the department or other agency with jurisdiction over the Michigan skiway. A permit issued under this subsection shall require that the permit holder return the trailway and any associated facility to its original condition if any damage is done by the permittee. Limited permits for special events may be issued and shall require the removal of any trail markers, banners, and other material used in connection with the special event. (4) As used in this section, "cross-country ski race" means a timed skiing event organized for the participation of a large number of skiers at 1 time over a course prepared specifically for a ski race. Sec. 72122. (1) Within 90 days after the effective date of the amendatory act that added this section, the department shall make available for sale cross-country ski passes for use on Michigan skiways. The department may appoint agents to issue and sell cross- country ski passes. The department may revoke the appointment of an agent any time. An agent shall observe all procedures established by the department for the accounting and handling of cross-country ski passes. (2) The cost of a cross-country ski pass is as follows: (a) Five dollars for a daily permit. (b) Twenty dollars for a yearly permit. (c) Forty dollars for a permit that is valid for 3 years. (3) In addition to the fee for a cross-country ski pass, an issuing fee of $1.00 shall be charged by an agent selling the cross-country ski pass. (4) An agent shall promptly remit all money received from the sale of cross-country ski passes, except issuing fees, to the department. The department shall forward all money received under this section to the state treasurer for deposit into the Michigan skiways fund created in section 72123. Sec. 72123. (1) The Michigan skiways fund is created within the state treasury. (2) The state treasurer may receive money or other assets from any source for deposit into the Michigan skiways fund. The state treasurer shall direct the investment of the Michigan skiways fund. The state treasurer shall credit to the Michigan skiways fund interest and earnings from fund investments. (3) Money in the Michigan skiways fund at the close of the fiscal year shall remain in the fund and shall not lapse to the general fund. (4) The department shall be the administrator of the Michigan skiways fund for auditing purposes. (5) The department shall expend money from the Michigan skiways fund, upon appropriation, only for 1 or more of the following purposes: (a) Issuing cross-country ski passes. (b) Maintaining, grooming, and improving Michigan skiways. (c) Grants for Michigan skiways sponsored by local units of government. Sec. 72124. The department shall establish a grant program for local units of government for the acquisition, development, and maintenance of Michigan skiways. Grants shall be available for acquisition of trailway easements but shall not be used to acquire any land in fee title. A local unit of government applying for and receiving a grant under this section shall operate the Michigan skiway for 1 year following the expiration of its last grant. The department shall issue grants for Michigan skiways sponsored by local units of government based upon criteria established by the department. Sec. 72125. (1) A person who violates section 72121(2) is responsible for a state civil infraction and may be ordered to pay a civil fine of not more than $50.00. (2) A person who knowingly makes a false statement in an application for a cross-country ski pass is responsible for a state civil infraction and may be ordered to pay a civil fine of not more than $50.00.