The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation will build out a new trailhead south of Cable as a backup to the current start area adjacent to the Telemark Resort.
In announcing the plan, the ABSF board also said it planned to continue starting the popular races at the Cable airport as long as possible.
More than an alternate for the start line, the new trailhead will provide an additional, year-round access point for skiers, hikers, snow-shoers and mountain bikers. The trailhead, approved by the ABSF Board of Directors, will be south of Cable, off Highway 63 and Leonard School Rd.
Previous estimates put the cost to buy the 80 acres of land and build the trailhead at $250,000.
The uncertain status of the Telemark Resort leading into the 2011 Birkebeiner races and potential issues with private property owners on the Birkie Trail prompted the move to create an alternate start area for North America’s largest Nordic Skiing event.
"The existing trail that uses the airport start area crosses private lands owned by six different landowners.
“If any one of these properties is sold or access is denied for any other reason, the Birkie would be left without a start location and the need to find a new one. In addition, access to several of these properties is now limited to use only on race day. Use of the Cable airport also requires annual approval from state and federal agencies. Building the new trailhead would provide a backup start area if and when any land-use issues arise.
Third, the planning, budgeting, and costs associated with using these private lands have also become a concern. For example, during the past year, one of the private landowners initially proposed to charge ABSF a fee of $100,000 to $150,000 for race day use of the trail and facilities. This fee was later reduced to $25,000 and access was allowed, five weeks before the 2011 event.
The new trailhead will require a five-mile connector trail on Bayfield County Forest Land to meet up with the Birkie Trail near Randysek Road. The Birkie officials will go before the Bayfield County Forest Committee on Jan. 11.