Minnesota loves its trails and keeps building more without having a long-term funding source in place to maintain them.
State Reps. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings) and Ron Erhardt (D-Edina) think another dedicated user fee could help fix that problem. Yesterday the two legislators introduced a bill (HF1656) that would charge bikers and rollerbladers $20 annually or $4 daily to use state trails.
County trails are included too, but county boards could choose to opt out of the fees -- and the funding. The DNR would be responsible for doling out the money, which would only be used for maintenance, no new construction.
"It's a little bit controversial, but it's a good discussion to have because we really have a lot of great trails in the state and the pressure is always to build more, build more, but we're not taking care of what we already have," said McNamara.
McNamara pointed out the state already charges user fees to snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, and horseback riders. Why should bikers and rollerbladers slide by for free?
McNamara chairs the House's Outdoor Recreation Committee and said it's fairly likely the bill will at least get a hearing.
"I think it's a discussion worth having, although I don't know if this will get fast-tracked through or anything. We have to pay for maintenance somehow," he said.
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