STATE LANDS — During the first six weeks of sales, Washington’s new Discover Pass raised $2,914,434 to support state parks and other state recreation lands, the state Parks and Recreation Commission reported Wednesday.
That leaves much to be desired in making up for the $65 million loss in general fund support to state recreation lands.
Sales include $1,008,469 during July collected by state parks and another $1,905,965 made through the Washington Interactive Licensing Database (WILD) managed by Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) through a private business vendor.
Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director, said those sales are critical to the future of state parks, which must now rely on user fees and donations to cover costs. WDFW and the state Department of Natural Resources also receive a percentage of those fees to maintain public access to lands they manage.
“And we are optimistic that sales will continue to grow to help fund our state recreation lands,” he said.
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WDFW Director Phil Anderson said sales figures during the months ahead will provide a good indication of public support for the Discover Pass and the future of state parks and other public lands.
“It’s hard to tell much from one month of data,” Anderson said. “The public is still learning about this program and sales outlets will increase substantially as state vehicle licensing offices start selling the Discover Pass.”
Under legislation approved earlier this year, the Discover Pass is required for access to recreation lands managed by the State Parks and Recreation Commission, WDFW and DNR.
The Discover Pass sells for $30 annual ($10 one-day) and allows access to nearly 7 million acres of state recreation lands, including parks, trails, wildlife and natural areas and water-access sites.
Beginning with October license renewals through Department of Licensing (DOL), vehicle owners will have the option to purchase the Discover Pass for $30 when renewing their vehicle tabs. Buyers of the pass through the DOL process will receive their passes in the mail from WDFW within 10 business days of renewal and purchase.
The 2011 Legislature created the Discover Pass to replace $65 million in reduced state general fund (tax revenue) support for the maintenance and operations of state recreation lands. The agencies that manage state parks and state recreation lands must now rely on user fees and donations to cover costs.