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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Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust earns honor for state park projects

March 27, 2012

The long-term effort to restore natural areas in Lake Sammamish State Park earned the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust recognition from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

The nonprofit organization formed to oversee the Mountains to Sound Greenway earned the Significant Volunteer Achievement honor in the Volunteer Recognition Awards announced March 26.

Through a longtime Adopt-a-Park agreement, the greenway trust developed a nursery to plant, water, weed and pot native plants for use along the greenbelt from Seattle to Ellensburg.

Greenway members potted trees and shrubs — 23,000 plants in all. The group involved local students and corporate groups in restoration and maintenance along Issaquah Creek and planted trees at the state park.

The greenway trust also improved the 12-mile Squak Mountain trail system. Members installed more than 65 trail signs, raised 800 feet of turnpike trail above wet areas, performed stabilization work on equestrian trails and installed 150 drain dips to keep water off trails.

Statewide, volunteers at state parks last year performed 271,260 hours of work — equal to 130 full-time employees.

Press Editorial

February 14, 2012

Heritage designation fits for greenway

It seems silly that different public land-use agencies cannot work together, but the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is trying to help resolve that problem.

Today, there are six major agencies that manage public lands with the 1.5 million acres known as the greenway. These include the U.S. Forest Service, City of Seattle Watershed, state Department of Natural Resources, Washington State Parks, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and King County.

The agencies should be able to intermingle land management. The benefit focuses on enforcement and environmental decisions. For example, one agency employee may not have the authority to stop hunters or timber cutting on public land. It also opens the doors to pilot projects that might be used elsewhere in the country.

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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 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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Discover Pass is available to vehicle owners renewing registration

September 8, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Sept. 8, 2011

The annual Discover Pass for state parks and recreation lands is now available through the state Department of Licensing.

The agency started mailing notices in early September to owners of vehicle license tabs set to expire on or after Oct. 1.

Motorists can also purchase the Discover Pass at vehicle licensing offices or online as part of the registration renewal process. Purchasing the pass through the Department of Licensing does not have dealer or transaction fees attached.

People buying the pass through the Department of Licensing should receive the Discover Pass in the mail from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife within 10 days of renewal and purchase.

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State urges boaters to wear life jackets during holiday weekend

September 3, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 3, 2011

Sunshine and temperatures in the 80s for Issaquah mean Labor Day weekend offers a chance for boaters to set sail before summer concludes.

Officials expect a busy holiday weekend on Washington waterways, so the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program reminds all boaters, especially personal water craft users, to wear a life jacket.

So far in 2011, 13 boating fatalities occurred in Washington. Only one boater involved in the accidents had been wearing a life jacket.

Under state law, boaters using personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis, must wear a life jacket.

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Discover Pass sales generate almost $3 million for parks, lands

August 25, 2011

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.”

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