Multi-Agency User Fee Bill is Now Official
Proposed legislation would establish a recreation pass that would cover State Park, DNR and Department of Fish and Wildlife recreation lands. Users would be subject to $10/car day pass or a $30 annual pass.
More than 2000 petition signatures later, a new bill - Senate Bill 5622 - that incorporates our major concerns is working its way through the convoluted process of becoming a law. Sponsored by Senators Ranker, Swecker, Fraser, Hargrove, White and Regala, SB 5622 sets up the Discover Pass, which is a three-agency - State Parks, DNR and Fish and Wildlife - vehicle access pass.
The legislation is markedly different from the draft bill circulated by DNR and Fish and Wildlife earlier in the session in that the pass is per vehicle rather than per person. In addition, it would also include State Parks.
As such, it's much more like the Northwest Forest Pass and is much more easily supported by people who hike, mountain bike, ride horses and use ORVs on these lands. While WTA would prefer that the legislature pay for recreation from the general fund, since it's a core public value, we recognize that the state is grappling with a $4.6 billion deficit this year. In order to keep our parks and recreation lands open, WTA believe we must step up and support reasonable solutions like this one.
Here are the particulars of the legislation:
- A day pass would cost $10 per vehicle.
- An annual pass would cost $30, and could bepurchased when you renew your vehicle license tabs. It would not be transferable between cars.
- Of the funds collected, 85% would go to State Parks and 7.5% would go to both DNR and Fish and Wildlife.
- The pass is expected to raise $71 million per biennium.
If the Discover Pass raises the revenue that economists and the legislature project, those percentages will be sufficient to keep important recreation sites statewide open.
One of WTA's chief concerns with the initial proposal circulated by the agencies was a per person pass. This would have made enforcement extremely difficult and costly, which would have significantly eaten into revenue. Now, enforcing the pass will be as easy as a quick drive through the trailhead parking lot.
The introduction of this new bill is a good first step, but it is by no means a done deal. WTA needs YOU to attend Hiker Lobby Day next Wednesday, February 9th, in Olympia. You will have the opportunity to meet with your elected officials and express the importance of keeping our state recreation lands open. Please sign up by 8am on Thursday, February 3rd, so that we can make appointments for you.
Can't make Lobby Day? We encourage you to take a moment and call your legislators, particularly your Senator, and urge them to support this legislation. This is one of the best ways you can help keep places like Mount Si, Squak Mountain State Park, and Umtanum Canyon open and maintained. Thank you!