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Interim Committee Discusses Trail Funding

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Concerns over funding state facilities dominated discussions at the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee meeting under way this week in Teton Village.  State Senator Leland Christensen who sits on that committee says among those facilities are the state’s snowmobile trails, which he says are as much a tourism and winter economy issue as it is a recreational concern. He says it certainly impacts the Jackson Hole area, but around the state he says, the state has learned in such areas as the Snowy Range and in the Bighorns there is a significant impact on the winter economies of the areas. Christensen says the issue is nothing new, and was the subject of a bill put before the legislature during the last session.  That bill passed the Senate but failed in the House.  He says what is being considered is raising registration fees for snow machines to help pay for the trails.  Christensen says interestingly, a lot of the snowmobilers who use the trails are asking for the opportunity to pay more on their fees in order to assure there are groomed trails to travel where they would like to go. Similarly, the committee discussed fees charged for entry into the state’s parks which currently stands at $4.  That compares with $7 to $9 daily in Colorado, $7 to $10 in Utah and $5 in Idaho and Montana. Some members pointed to the national park daily entry fee which is $25.  Christensen says those state recreational facilities are significant attractions on the eastern side of the state. The topic will of fees be raised again during the next legislative session.

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