Discover Pass sales generate almost $3 million for parks, lands
August 25, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 25, 2011
The state generated $2.9 million for state parks and other public recreation lands during the initial six weeks of Discover Pass sales, state agency chiefs announced Wednesday.
Officials started requiring the $30 annual pass or $10 day-use pass to park vehicles at recreation lands statewide July 1. The state started selling the passes in June.
Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director, said the revenue is crucial to state parks, because the agency must rely on user fees and donations to cover costs. In recent years, the Legislature slashed funding for agencies managing outdoor recreation lands and facilities.
“Public support has been essential as we begin this new program aimed at preserving public access to recreation lands,” he said in a statement. “It’s heartening that Washington citizens are willing to help keep their recreation lands open and operating. And we are optimistic that sales will continue to grow to help fund our state recreation lands.”
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources also receive a percentage of Discover Pass revenue.
The pass is required for state parks, as well as lands managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources. Users must display the annual or day-use Discover Pass in vehicles’ front windshields or face a $99 fine.
The pass is required for Lake Sammamish and Squak Mountain state parks, as well as Tiger Mountain State Forest, near Issaquah.
Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson said sales figures during the months ahead should provide a good indication of public support for the Discover Pass.
“It’s hard to tell much from one month of data,” he said. “The public is still learning about this program and sales outlets will increase substantially as state vehicle licensing offices start selling the Discover Pass.”
Starting in October, the state Department of Licensing plans to offer vehicle owners the option to purchase the $30 Discover Pass as motorists renew vehicle tabs.
Revenue from pass sales is to be divided among the state land-management agencies: 84 percent to state parks, 8 percent to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and 8 percent to the Department of Natural Resources.
The state needs to generate about $60 million per year to compensate for budget cuts to parks and recreation lands.
State lawmakers approved the Discover Pass in late April, and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the legislation into law.