Friday, May 13, 2011

Get your Discover Pass soon!

With the Governor's approval of SB 5622 yesterday, Washington joins the ranks of states like Idaho, Oregon, and California that have a day-use fee for state parks.

The measure, which was sponsored in the House by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, keeps parks open rather than mothballing them due to budget cuts.

There are 120 state parks throughout Washington, but the vast majority of them are not self-supporting. They require something besides campground fees to fund maintenance and operation, and they are about to lose $60 million of state general fund support.

Thursday's bill signing creates the "Discover Pass," which will cost $30 per vehicle. For less than three dollars a month, the pass allows entry to any state park or state-managed recreational land for an entire year.

Without the pass, the day-use fee for state parks is $10.

In a press release, Rep. Van De Wege stresses that those who cannot afford a pass or the day-use fee will still get opportunities to enter state parks for free.

While free access to state parks for all is another casualty of budget cuts in Olympia, it is great news that parks will still remain open – particularly with the summer camping and recreational season just around the corner.

(Photo: Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island - courtesy of Washington State Parks)