OLYMPIA – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the state departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced they are co-requesting legislation that will reform state land management and maintain public access to state recreation lands.
SB 5622 addresses the growing demand for recreation opportunities and the impacts of recreation on natural resources and wildlife by developing a reliable source of funding and improving law enforcement on state lands managed by the agencies. All three agencies have seen sharp declines in their budgets to provide adequate maintenance, improvements, and enforcement for recreation. The Governor’s proposed budget removed state General Fund support for recreation on state lands in favor of a user-supported funding approach.
“As lawmakers discuss the most drastic budget cuts in state history, we need to align our revenues with our expectations about our quality of life,” said State Senator Kevin Ranker (D-40th), the prime sponsor of the bill, said. “We need to talk about not just how much our outdoor recreation services cost, but also about how much it costs to lose them. Without this legislation, we will witness widespread closure of state parks and other public facilities. I am grateful for the leadership provided by Parks, DNR, and WDFW on this critical issue.”
A companion bill, HB 1796, has been introduced in the House by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D-24th). One of the key components of the bill is the annual $30 pass that will enable the public to visit state lands managed by all three agencies with just a single pass.
“With State Parks moving off General Fund tax support, we need a new way to fund recreation, and a user-pay model seems to be the fairest—those who use parks pay for them” said State Parks Director Don Hoch. “Working together with all three agencies that offer recreation on state lands is a great value for citizens. The public doesn’t have to worry about whether they are on lands managed by State Parks, WDFW, or DNR. One permit gets them access.”