During a conversation yesterday I mentioned that I was going to go cross-country skiing and I needed to make sure I had my skiing license for this year.
The person I was talking to thought I was joking. (She does not live in my north-midwestern, crazy-for-cross-country-skiing, state.) I was not kidding. Here, everyone over the age of 16 that skis on public trails must have a license, also known as a pass. There are one day passes ($6), one season passes ($20), and three season passes ($55).
Why? The fee paid by the many enthusiastic skiers helps support the public trail system. I'm talking a little through my hat here, but I think it pays for buying the machines that groom the trails, helps pay the actual costs of grooming the trails throughout the season, and maybe even defrays the cost of having warming huts for the freezing hordes. If you are in charge of public lands and you want to create or maintain ski trails, you can apply for a grant from the state.
I don't know how many thousands of miles of ski trails are in the program, but I probably have over fifteen different places to ski within twenty miles of my house. That includes parks of many kinds, county, regional, state, even some recreational areas. At least two county parks have trails with lights, so people can ski after work. Being willing to drive further adds many more skiing possibilities.
Seems like a good value to me. I plan on getting some of my money's worth today!