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‘Discover Pass’ to access parks would cost $30

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm with 16 Comments »
January 31, 2011 4:28 pm

It would cost $30 a year to visit state parks and forests under a proposal made public today.

For those who don’t buy the $30 annual “Discover Pass,” a single day’s visit would cost $10.

Those are the much-awaited details of Senate Bill 5622, introduced by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island, at the request of the agencies that manage the state parks system and other public lands.

The price tag has grown since the state parks commission first put pencil to paper at the request of Gov. Chris Gregoire, who wants to move the parks system off the general fund. To move to a “user-pays” funding scheme for the parks, the commission said in December it would need to sell a $10 annual parking pass or charge $5 daily parking fees.

But state officials say they would need higher fees to raise $71 million through the passes.

The parks are free now. A $5 donation is optional for drivers renewing their car tabs.

Under the bill, recreation enthusiasts could pick up the annual parking passes at car-tab renewal time or at one of the offices where the state sells hunting and fishing licenses.

Volunteers who put in more than 40 hours of work in the parks would get their Discover Passes for free.

Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, will have a similar bill in the House.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: State Parks says surveys to determine participation rates drove up the fees, as did a decision to have a joint pass with the departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife.

Those agencies were contemplating their own per-person pass for hikers and others who use the state forests and other lands, but they settled on a joint, per-vehicle pass with parks.

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. slasmith says:

    Does anyone know how this will affect the disabled veterans lifetime passes?

  2. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    This is a poorly written bill and leaves many questions. I plan to testify in Olympia on this bill so tell me more about the pass you have.

    Is it presently accepted at state parks or is this a national park pass? Tell me more.

  3. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    People are opting out of the $5 donation and stayed away from the parks when they charged a $5 parking fee. So now they want to charge $30!!!! Read this bill and you will learn that you will need a $30 pass is for each car or motorcycle you own and the $10 fee is per person. People will opt out of this plan and it will not be a reliable source of funding for the long term. This measure will only doom parks for the future generations.

    Park are a important factor of our quality of life. The present budget is 1/10 of 1 percent of the state budget. They found 66 million to fund health care for illegals and drug addicts, they can find funding for parks. Don’t believe me, look at HB 1580 and the cuts they made to K-12 education to fund care for illegals. Demand tha park funding remain a part of the general fund.

  4. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Thanks for reporting this. Park lovers want and need this kind of information.

  5. slasmith says:

    Here is the link to all pass information the specific one I have is the disabled veterans lifetime pass.


  6. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Not addressed in the present bill. I have a phone call today and I will ask for you. I will post an answer here if I can find out. My gut tells me they want to scrap all freebies like this by not saying a word in the bill.

  7. I feel all fees are too much and everyone should boycott the State Parks.If no money is collected then close the Parks down and furlough the workers.The fees they charge are much too much for what you receive.The Parks are a never ending source of a dollar drain on our present economy.The illegals are getting the so called surplus money of the State,not the legal citizens.

  8. Same logic should be applied to ferry and public transit. Users pay!!!

    If it’s good enough to charge the public for access to public land then it should be good enough to pay for mass transit/ferry use.

  9. mosescoolj says:

    Great so how much will my property taxes go down?

  10. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    $30 is a bargain and does not cover the whole cost of parks, not even close. The $5 parking fee from the past took half that amount to collect it. A car decal will cost near zip to collect. Not to do this would be the same as asking to use ferries with no fees.

  11. cocaman says:

    The National Parks issue a year long pass to a person, not a vehicle. The person with the pass can enter any park in the system, along with, I believe, three other people, if not more. Lifetime passes are sold very inexpensively to those 62 and older, and are also good for the holder and guests. ID is required. For those who use the state parks, having a user fee seems appropriate, but this bill is ridiculous. Modeling it after the National Parks Pass would be much more fair. I donate $15 a year to the parks through my license tabs renewals, but will stop if this bill as written passes.

  12. crocodopolis says:

    Washington State Parks instituted a $5.00 entrance fee program years ago. Visitation numbers dropped to the point where they finally realized the program was not working: people were not going to State Parks. They dropped the $5.00 fee requirement.
    The new plan is to charge $10.00 ( or $30.00 per year ).
    Or, an annual pass can be had for 40 hours of volunteer time. ( Almost triple what is required of National Park Service volunteers. )
    This will drive people away from State Parks. Visitation numbers will drop, and it will become increasingly difficult to justify further expenditures for upkeep, maintenance, and improvements in State Parks that see fewer visitors.
    The $518,000 fence on the freeway overpass is stupid.
    The $10.00 entrance fee for State Parks is beyond stupid.

  13. crocodopolis says:

    from SB5622:
    NEW SECTION. Sec. 3.
    (2) Cost of the discover pass is thirty dollars per vehicle. The
    cost of the discover pass must be adjusted once every two years for
    inflation by the office of financial management.
    (6) The discover pass must contain space for the vehicle license
    plate number.

    In other words, it’s only $30.00 for the first two years.
    When’s the last time you saw Washington State NOT take advantage of an opportunity to raise a fee?
    The $30.00 pass is only good for ONE vehicle. Means: if you want to tow the boat with the Tahoe and have the wife and kids follow in the 4-runner, you pay twice.

  14. northsc says:

    re: crocodopolis,

    I had to chuckle at the example of any owner of a boat, Tahoe, and 4-Runner complaining. They are probably paying a lot more in buying gas for all that since last year than the park fee hike.

    I’m thinking more about some one who might use a state park 2-3 times a year. These folks might stop using the state park and keep the money to make up a little they are losing due to inflation on bread, milk, and other necessities.

    We are all suffering a bit through this recession – those who can operate a Tahoe/boat/4-runner must not be feeling the pinch enough.

  15. crocodopolis says:

    Sure… I could have said “tow the boat with ’68 Ford F250 and have the wife and kids follow in a ’88 Regal”, but let’s be realistic: that guy with the Tahoe and 4-runner has a mortgage payment and at least one car payment, and he is feeling the pinch- he just has better credit and owes more.

  16. takemeback says:

    Back before 1980 when we had a strong unions and a well paid middle class which payed most of the income taxes the feds sent lots of money to the states for social programs infrastructure etc. The wealthy paid very little taxes even though the rate was 70% because they used the tax loopholes such as envestment credits which built up the companys net worth and employee retirement and helthcare plans. After the tax rates were dropped to 30% the wealthy liquided all those assets and paid the tax which didn’t help the deficet as the debt increased during the 1980s. Now we have a smaller lesspaid working class struggling to get out of debt. And a great number of people with so little desposable income the one thin they can do is take their kids to the state park woops or can they?

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