The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation has implemented a new trail pass policy to generate money for grooming and maintenance.
Under the plan approved by the Sawyer County Board in late December, skiers will be required to buy a trail pass – $50 annually or $10 daily – to ski on the Birkie Trail. The passes will be available at the trail heads, local ski shops and online through the Birkebeiner. (Click here for full details on pricing and purchase locations).
In comparison, annual passes for skiing and biking on trails controlled by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources cost $20 annually, or $4 daily. Most trail users on state land also need a vehicle admission sticker, which costs $25 annually or $7 a day.
Ambassadors on the Birkie Trail will check for passes and encourage compliance by offering coupons to local businesses for those who follow the new policy. Those who bike or ski on state trails without a pass could be fined.
In the past, the Birkebeiner collected fees for trail maintenance via parking permits at the various trail access points between Hayward and Cable. That generated about $28,000 per year. Birkie officials developed the new skier passes with the goal of generating more revenue to offset the annual trail grooming and maintenance, roughly $300,000 each year.
Birkie officials reported an operating loss of about $40,000 in 2013, but tax returns show the non-profit ABSF remains financially strong. It collected total revenue of $1.3 million in the tax year ending in June 2012, much that through the fees paid by the nearly 10,000 skiers who participated in the American Birkebeiner Ski Race.