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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State park pulls some strings to host Beijing puppet theater

August 23, 2011

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Folk Arts in the Parks Program presents a free performance of the Beijing rod puppet theater in Lake Sammamish State Park.

Puppeteers Zhengli Xu (left) and Yuqin Wang will perform at 6 p.m. Aug. 26 with the Beijing rod puppet theater in Lake Sammamish State Park. Contributed

No state Discover Pass for parking is needed for those attending this event.

The performance is at 6 p.m. Aug. 26 in the kitchen shelter at the park.

The state describes performers Dragon Art Studio, based in Portland, as an internationally acclaimed puppet theater and the only professional rod puppet theater in North America. Primary puppeteers Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu were trained in China at the Beijing Puppet Theater and the Beijing Opera School. Their daughter, Brenda Xu, is the third member of the troop.

Wang and Xu came to the U.S. in 1996 and performed at the Atlanta Olympics that summer. In 2004, they were named National Heritage Fellows by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The performance is part of a broader series of events celebrating the diverse culture represented in Washington. The program is a partnership between the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington State Arts Commission and Northwest Heritage Resources. Funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Washington State Arts Commission and the Washington State Parks Foundation.

The Beijing puppet show is designed to be accessible to those with disabilities. If special accommodations are required in order to attend, call 649-4276. Those who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Washington Telecommunications Relay Service 800-833-6388 toll free. Requests must be made in advance.

Learn more about the Dragon Arts Studio at www.dragonartstudio.com.

Discover Pass is required for state parks, recreation lands July 1

June 28, 2011

Summer days spent lounging lakeside at Lake Sammamish State Park or hiking in Tiger Mountain State Forest start to cost most users a fee soon.

The cash-strapped state is preparing to debut the Discover Pass on July 1, just as the Fourth of July weekend causes attendance to swell at state parks and recreation lands. The permit is required to park vehicles at state recreation sites and other public lands.

The base price for the annual pass is $30, although consumers should expect to shell out another $5 in fees. The day-use pass — base price: $10 — carries $1.50 in additional fees.

State officials maintain the pass is necessary to avoid closing state parks and other sites to public access, but outdoors enthusiasts said the requirement serves a barrier to parkgoers, and could cause attendance to drop.

The pass is needed for parking access to 7 million acres of state recreation lands under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, state Department of Natural Resources, and state Department of Fish and Wildlife. State recreation lands include state parks, boat launches, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, campgrounds, trails and trailheads.

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Discover Pass for state recreation lands goes on sale

June 20, 2011

NEW — 7 p.m. June 20, 2011

The parking pass required for state parks and other recreation lands is available for purchase, state agencies announced Monday.

The state is offering the Discover Pass online and at recreational license dealers across the Evergreen State. The pass is needed for parking access to 7 million acres of state recreation lands, including Lake Sammamish State Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest.

The base price for the annual pass is $30, and the base price for the day-use pass is $10. Users must also pay transaction and dealer fees.

Starting July 1, the pass is required for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites under Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, state Department of Natural Resources and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife jurisdiction. State recreation lands include state parks, boat launches, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, campgrounds, trails and trailheads.

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Squak Mountain State Park to remain open

June 7, 2011

Budget prompts reduced hours, service at state park

Squak Mountain State Park’s operating hours and maintenance could be reduced, but the latest proposal from the state allows for the park to remain open.

Under a plan offered last year, Squak Mountain and other recreation sites faced a shutdown as early as July 2011. Instead, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is considering a service reduction in order to cut costs. Under the proposal, the 1,545-acre destination for hikers and equestrian trail riders could close on weekdays.

“We know we have to make some service reductions, but we’re trying to figure out ways to have the parks not be to zero service,” commission spokeswoman Virginia Painter said.

Still, reduced service could make for some notable changes on Squak Mountain.

“The intention for us is to have it open on weekends — Friday, Saturday, Sunday — and probably holidays with some limited services, meaning limited maintenance,” Lake Sammamish State Park Manager Rich Benson said. “We’re probably not going to do as much as we once did.”

(Rangers manage Lake Sammamish, Squak Mountain, Bridle Trails and Olallie state parks from a lakeside office in Issaquah.)

The state could also find a partner, such as a nonprofit group, to help maintain Squak Mountain, although no such agreement has been announced.

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Issaquah City Council sets goals for 2012

May 17, 2011

Leaders pick downtown parking, economic development as 2012 focus

Solving parking headaches in downtown Issaquah is a top priority for city leaders next year.

The ongoing problem emerged as the No. 1 goal May 14 as City Council members set goals for 2012.

The city intends to examine possible solutions, because parking is often difficult in the historic downtown corridor during ArtWalk and other summertime events.

The council opted to revisit the longtime headache for downtown merchants and consumers. The city conducted other downtown parking studies in the past.

Other priorities included a continued focus on economic development, offering additional city information online, and discussing possible arrangements for the aging Julius Boehm Pool and cash-strapped Lake Sammamish State Park.

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Governor approves $30 user fee for state parks, lands

May 17, 2011

The cost to keep Lake Sammamish State Park and other public recreation lands open amounts to $30 per year for many users, under a measure Gov. Chris Gregoire signed May 12.

Flanked by recreation enthusiasts, Gregoire signed legislation to create a $30 annual pass and a $10 day-use pass for state-managed forests, parks and other natural areas.

The measure, called the Discover Pass, goes into effect July 1 for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and state Department of Natural Resources.

In addition to Lake Sammamish State Park, local recreation sites include Squak Mountain State Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest.

“It is essential that we keep our recreation areas open to the public,” Gregoire said in a statement. “I applaud the Legislature for coming together with a solution that allows us to help keep our state recreation lands open and accessible during the worst budget crisis in the state’s history.”

The pass goes on sale in mid-June. Users must display the annual or day-use Discover Pass in vehicles’ front windshields or face a $99 fine.

Lawmakers created the Discover Pass to close gaps in funding for state parks and recreation lands after Gregoire called for reduced support from taxpayer dollars amid a $5.1 billion budget shortfall.

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Governor approves $30 user fee for state parks, lands

May 12, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. May 12, 2011

Flanked by recreation enthusiasts, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation Thursday to create a $30 vehicle pass for Lake Sammamish State Park and other state recreation lands.

The measure, called the Discover Pass, goes into effect July 1 for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and state Department of Natural Resources. The pass goes on sale in mid-June.

“It is essential that we keep our recreation areas open to the public,” Gregoire said in a statement. “I applaud the Legislature for coming together with a solution that allows us to help keep our state recreation lands open and accessible during the worst budget crisis in the state’s history.”

Users can pay $30 per year per vehicle or purchase a $10 day-use pass. State recreation lands include state parks, boat launches, campgrounds, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and trailheads. In addition to the Lake Sammamish park, local sites include Squak Mountain State Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest.

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Boaters enjoying sunshine should remember life jackets

May 11, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 11, 2011

Sunshine and temperatures in the upper 60s could appear in Issaquah soon, prompting boaters to set sail on Lake Sammamish.

Experts from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission reminds boaters to use life jackets and know boating laws.

Each year, a majority of boating deaths result from drowning, and a majority of the deceased had not been wearing life jackets.

Officials recorded 18 boating fatalities statewide last year. Wearing a life jacket can prevent many boating-related deaths.

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Legislators approve $30 fee for state recreation lands, open spaces

April 26, 2011

Outdoors enthusiasts could start paying $30 to park at state trailheads and use state parks starting in July.

In a party-line vote April 21, the state House of Representatives passed legislation to create a Discover Pass for state parks and open spaces, including Lake Sammamish State Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest near Issaquah. The state Senate passed the measure in a bipartisan vote the previous day.

The legislation now heads to the governor. Gov. Chris Gregoire also proposed a user fee for state parks in a proposed budget released in December.

Once the legislation reaches the governor’s desk, she has 20 days to sign the measure into law.

Users could use the annual Discover Pass to park at trailheads and other state-managed lands. For users uninterested in the annual parking pass, the legislation proposes a $10 day-use fee for using the lands. Otherwise, violators could face a ticket.

The proposal attracted broad support from outdoor recreation groups, including the Washington Trails Association.

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