As the cross-country ski season winds down, the DNR is reporting that sales of the Great Minnesota Ski Pass are the strongest they've been since 2014.
Skiers bought more than 17,600 passes this winter, resulting in the DNR collecting more than $510,000. The passes are required to use many trails in the state, and they generate money for cross-country ski clubs to maintain those trails.
In 2019, the state Legislature increased prices for the ski pass, moving the daily pass up from $6 to $10, the annual pass from $20 to $25, and the three-year pass from $55 to $70.
DNR spokesperson Rachel Hopper said the trail maintenance fund saw decreasing revenue in recent years that forced a delayed payment to clubs in 2019, before the new prices were in effect.
But this winter's higher sales and the price increase have helped refill the fund.
"Sales were so good that we were able to move the payments back to the normal timing. With the sales then continuing to be so good, we're very hopeful that we will continue to be able to make those grant in aid payments at the regular time, which is around January next year," she said.
Hopper says the increased sales are driven in part by more people seeking outdoor recreation during the pandemic.
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