Governor vetoes dollars for Lake Sammamish State Park

May 15, 2012

Cheryl Pflug

Questions about long-term funding for a proposed concession and event facility at Lake Sammamish State Park led Gov. Chris Gregoire to eliminate the $3.1 million legislators had set aside for construction.

The long-term plan for the state park included the concession and event facility as a supplement to the aging amenities at the lakeside destination. Officials questioned a plan from the cash-strapped state parks system to pay for the facility.

The governor struck the state park facility from the supplemental capital budget. The document authorized more than $1 billion in public works spending statewide, including a $4 million project to replace a problem-plagued Issaquah Salmon Hatchery dam.

Gregoire signed the supplemental capital budget April 24.

State Sen. Cheryl Pflug, a Maple Valley Republican and the representative for Issaquah, joined other senators to pressure the governor to preserve funding for the state park facility, but also raised questions about long-term funding.

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Users can transfer state recreation pass between vehicles

April 10, 2012

Users can transfer the Discover Pass for state parks and recreation lands between vehicles, under legislation Gov. Chris Gregoire signed March 30 — not long before Memorial Day launches the summer recreation season.

The change to the 1-year-old Discover Pass took effect immediately. The legislation allows users to transfer the annual pass between two vehicles at no additional cost.

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Users can transfer state recreation pass between vehicles

March 30, 2012

NEW — 4:30 p.m. March 30, 2012

Users can transfer the Discover Pass for state parks and recreation lands between vehicles, under legislation Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Friday.

Gov. Chris Gregoire

The change to the 1-year-old Discover Pass took effect immediately. The legislation allows users to transfer the annual pass between two vehicles at no additional cost.

State lawmakers acted after Discover Pass users complained about the inability to transfer the pass between vehicles.

“Customer survey results indicated that pass transferability between two vehicles could boost support for the Discover Pass,” State Parks Director Don Hoch said. “We are optimistic that the change will lead to greater public support and participation. We now depend on the Discover Pass to keep state parks and other state recreation lands open for public use and enjoyment.”

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State parks commission announces 2012 free days for visitors

January 10, 2012

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday three-day weekend Jan. 14-16 will be the first of 10 free days in 2012 when the Discover Pass will not be required of visitors venturing out to enjoy their state parks.

Most of the free days are in alignment with 2012 free days offered by the National Park Service, according to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

The “free days” are in keeping with legislation that created the Discover Pass, a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit required on state-managed recreation lands managed by Washington State Parks, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources.

The Discover Pass legislation provided that Washington State Parks could designate up to 12 free days when the pass would not be required to visit state parks. The free days only apply at state parks. A Discover Pass will still be required to access Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Natural Resources lands.

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State parks gird for possible $30 million budget gap

December 6, 2011

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission officials said the agency is prepared to change amid the prospect of a $30 million budget gap.

The state parks agency used to receive about 75 percent of operating funds from the state general fund, but in the last legislative session, lawmakers set aside $17 million in “bridge” funding to transition the agency off of general fund dollars. Legislators also implemented the Discover Pass, a parking fee for state parks and state-managed recreation lands.

The commission prepared a strategy to allow the agency to respond to a worst-case scenario if legislators cut the existing $17 million general fund dollars, or if Discover Pass and other revenues fall short. The strategy includes deep spending cuts, changes to service levels in the short term and re-engineering the agency for a leaner future.

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State parks prepare for possible $30 million budget gap

November 28, 2011

NEW — 9 a.m. Nov. 28, 2011

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission officials said the agency is prepared to change amid the prospect of a $30 million budget gap.

The state parks agency used to receive about 75 percent of operating funds from the state general fund, but in the last legislative session, lawmakers set aside $17 million in “bridge” funding to transition the agency off of general fund dollars. Legislators also implemented the Discover Pass, a parking fee for state parks and state-managed recreation lands.

“The Discover Pass is a vital funding source for state parks,” Commission Chairman Joe Taller said in a statement. “We are asking the public to support and protect state parks by purchasing the Discover Pass.”

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State stocks hatchery-raised rainbow trout in Beaver Lake

November 15, 2011

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife released about 2,300 Issaquah Salmon Hatchery-raised rainbow trout into Beaver Lake last week.

State Fishery Biologist Aaron Bosworth said Beaver Lake is best fished by small boat, although anglers also can find some success in fishing from shore.

Beaver Lake is among a group of Western Washington lowland lakes open to fishing year round. The state prohibits internal-combustion boat engines on the lake. The state requires all anglers 15 and older to carry a valid fishing license to fish at Beaver Lake.

The daily bag limit is five fish — only two of the fish can exceed 15 inches in length — and bait anglers must keep the first five trout caught.

Beaver Lake is most easily reached from East Beaver Lake Drive Southeast, off of Southeast 24th Street. The site includes limited parking for vehicles and boat trailers.

Vehicles must display a valid Department of Fish and Wildlife Vehicle Access Pass or a Discover Pass.

State shuts down Beaver Lake access soon to stock rainbow trout

November 5, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 5, 2011

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to release about 2,300 Issaquah Salmon Hatchery-raised rainbow trout into Beaver Lake soon.

The access site at the lake is due to close at sunset Nov. 7 to prepare for the Nov. 8 release. The lake reopens at sunrise Nov. 9, but the lake is open to fishing even as the access site is shut down.

State Fishery Biologist Aaron Bosworth said Beaver Lake is best fished by small boat, although anglers also can find some success in fishing from shore.

Beaver Lake is among a group of Western Washington lowland lakes open to fishing year round. The state prohibits internal combustion boat engines on the lake. The state requires all anglers 15 and older to carry a valid fishing license to fish at Beaver Lake.

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State nets almost $3 million from Discover Pass sales

October 25, 2011

Sales prompt backups, confusion at state park

The state-mandated Discover Pass generated $2.9 million for state parks and other public recreation lands since the state and retailers started offering the pass in June — crucial dollars for the cash-strapped agencies responsible for managing public lands.

Officials started requiring a $30 annual pass or a $10 day-use pass to park vehicles at recreation lands statewide July 1. The pass is mandatory for state parks, as well as lands managed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources.

State public lands agencies need to generate about $60 million per year in sales to compensate for deep budget cuts. The agencies split the revenue — 84 percent for state parks and 8 percent apiece for the others.

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National Public Lands Day comes to Issaquah Alps

September 23, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. Sept. 23, 2011

Issaquah Alps peaks host volunteers Saturday for National Public Lands Day.

Organizations plan trail work on Cougar and Tiger mountains in the Issaquah area.

Washington Trails Association and King County Parks volunteers plan to decommission old trail sections along Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park’s Indian Trail.  The decommissioning involves adding plants in the old tread.

The work party runs from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The event is designed for families, and participants can sign up at the Washington Trails Association’s website.

The state Department of Natural Resources and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance plan to build Tiger Mountain trails Saturday for National Public Lands Day.

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