Outdoors blog

MONDAY, DEC. 20, 2010, 4:26 P.M.

State Parks confronts crisis management

STATE PARKS -- With the governor's budget proposal leaving now General Fund money for Washington State Parks and Recreation, officials have called a special meeting for Wednesday, 10 a.m., at parks headquarters in Olympia.

The agenda  includes discussion of the plan to merge parks and rec with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Recreation Conservation Office into a mega-agency called the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Consolidation could eliminate the citizen commissions and relegate them to advisory status, while a single director of the new agency would report to the governor.

The governor’s budget also proposes removing General Fund tax support from the State Parks budget, which would force the agency to raise operating revenue through user-based fees.

Currently, most fees are paid by the 7 percent of visitors who camp and stay at overnight lodgings in state parks.

Under the proposed system, the public might have to shell out $5 or $10 just to enter a state park.

Public comment can be sent by e-mail to public.information@parks.wa.gov.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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