Posts tagged: Discover Pass
STATE PARKS — The public has until Tuesday, Jan. 7, to comment on a proposal to allow commercial advertising in the Washington state parks website.
At its next regular meeting on Jan. 23, the parks commission plans to approve a new Washington State Parks advertising policy to allow commercial advertising on digital and printed material, and to set criteria for any such advertising.
The draft advertising policy can be found online.
The proposed policy does not include commercial advertising in state parks, but only advertising on agency websites and select printed materials.
The public can comment online by Jan. 7. Comments will be given to the commission for consideration.
WINTER SPORTS —
WINTER SPORTS — My recent blog post on the transitions at Mount Spokane State Park indicated the biggest change this seasons is the elimination of the Discover Pass for WINTER vehicle access to the park through March 31.
The handy chart above, courtesy of the Spokane REI store, helps illustrate the change.
Read the story for details.
STATE LANDS — Revenue collected from sales of the Discover Pass was nearly $1 million higher than the previous year, according to a report prepared for the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission.
But it still falls short of funding the needs of state parks.
Sales in the second full year of the program generated almost $16.7 million, compared with $15.7 million in the first year. The majority went to state parks, with the rest going to the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Even with the increase, the Discover Pass revenues fall short of the Washington Legislature's projections when it enacted the pass program.
The program was created to offset the loss of state funding through budget cuts. A $30 annual pass or $10 daily pass is required in motor vehicles accessing state parks and other state-managed recreation lands.
The Discover Pass program was projected to bring in $23.4 million in the first year. It managed only $13.2 million.
A report prepared for the state Parks and Recreation Commission says the state took in $32.4 million in the two-year budget cycle that ended June 30.
Parks officials hope that the trend of accepting the Discover Pass continues, boosted by legislative changes to allow families to use on more than one vehicle.
PUBLIC LANDS — Saturday is a big day of freebies and stewardship on public lands throughout the region.
It's National Public Lands Day as well as National Hunting and Fishing Day.
Here are some opportunities to consider:
Washington State Parks are offering free vehicle access on Saturday — no Discover Pass is required.
Federal lands, including all National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges such as Turnbull are offering free entry on Saturday, one of 13 national lands Fee-Free Days in 2013. The next will be Veterans Day Weekend (Nov. 9-11).
Hunting and fishing activities and information for newcomers to the sports will be offered by sportsmen's groups, 1 p.m.- 5 p.m. at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional office grounds, 2315 N. Discovery Pl. in Spokane Valley. See story for more details.
Spokane River Clean-Up, an annual event that attracts around 800 volunteers from individuals, families and groups, will spiff up sections of the river from 9 a.m.-noon followed by a barbecue. Get details and register online at friendsofthefalls.com.
STATE PARKS — Special activities at five venues are scheduled Sunday, (June 24), 10 a.m.-3 p.m., to introduce the public to features and recreation available in Riverside State Park on the west side of Spokane.
The required Discover Pass will be available for purchase from staff and volunteers. Venues include:
Bowl and Pitcher Area, 4427 North Aubrey L. White Parkway – Hiking and biking information; a free beginner orienteering course; displays, wildlife presentations and children’s activities.
Nine Mile Recreation Area, 11226 West Charles Rd – Canoeing and kayaking activities with boats for loan, boating safety expert, bass and fly fishing info, Lake Spokane presentations.
Equestrian Area, Aubrey L. White Parkway off Government Way – Tour riding trails and new campground facilities; free pony rides for kids under 75 pounds.
Spokane House Interpretive Center, off Highway 291 just west of Nine Mile Dam – Indoor and outdoor museum exhibits and demonstrations about the early fur trade.
Off-Road Vehicle Area, 9412 N. Inland Road – All-terrain vehicle test drives, ride-alongs with expert ORV drivers and displays featuring ORV gear.
More information: riversidestatepark.org.
STATE PARKS — Washington's Discover Pass, a vehicle permit required in state parks and other public lands, is getting help from a public relations firm to boost lagging sales.
The pass was created by the Washington Legislature to fund the State Parks System.
A public relations firm, Weber Shandwick, has a $157,500 state contract and a mission to promote social networking is building a new website to encourage visitors to post pictures, videos, stories and recommendations from their trips to Washington's more than 100 state parks.
The contractor's plan involves strategies on everything from Twitter use to greater visibility for Washington State Parks' mascot - tentatively known as Eager Beaver.
According to a story in the Olympian, the agency is involved in another bid process to create a mobile-device app, and is also hiring a marketing coordinator.
The parks agency originally predicted the Discover Pass would raise $32 million a year, most of it dedicated to parks. But it brought in just $11.3 million in its first 10 months which ended in April.
Ilene Frisch, assistant director for administration at the state Parks and Recreation Commission, said the pass is now meeting new, lower projections. Lawmakers are hopeful a change they made this year in response to complaints will help sales. Pass holders are now allowed to transfer their passes to a second car.
PUBLIC LANDS — A Washington Discover Pass — required for parking in state parks and most other state lands — is valid for two vehicles starting today, according to legislation signed this afternoon by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
The change took effect immediately. Holders of previously issued annual Discover Passes may enter a second vehicle license number on their existing pass.
The rule making the $30 annual pass valid for only one vehicle was largely criticized by consumers after the state recreation land pass was enacted in July 2011.
Pass transfer between two vehicles also applies to vehicle access passes (VAPs) issued free with purchases of annual fishing and hunting licenses for access to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recreation lands and water- access sites.
Read on for more details from Washington State Parks.
PUBLIC LANDS — It's a wish coming true for Washington State Parks visitors.
The Washington state Legislature has passed a bill allowing one Discover Pass to be shared among two vehicles.
House Bill 2373 passed the House this afternoon by a vote of 60-37, with most Republicans voting in opposition. Having earlier passed the Senate, it goes next to the governor.
The Discover Pass is a $30 annual state parks parking pass created by the Legislature last year to raise funds to keep parks open as well as contributing to state wildlife lands. Bill supporters say allowing two cars per pass will make it more affordable and may encourage more people to buy it.
According to the Associated Press, opponents objected to a provision in the bill expanding an optional $5 vehicle registration fee to mopeds, off-road vehicles, buses and trucks, saying the fee’s opt-out nature may fool people into contributing the money against their wishes.
Unlike a similar bill that recently passed the Senate unanimously, the House bill would add a $10 registration fee on all recreational vehicles until 2015 to go toward state parks.
Supporters said the bill would make it cheaper for families to visit state parks while replenishing park coffers.
Opponents said it would implement a tax on recreation vehicles in the guise of a fee.
The bill would allow families to buy a Discover Pass transferrable among any family vehicle for $50, and would exempt disabled veterans from having to buy the pass.
The measure is headed for the Senate.
PUBLIC LANDS — The Washington State Senate Energy, Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee Monday (Jan. 9) voted unanimously to refer a bill to the Ways and Means Committee that would make the Discover Pass transferable between two vehicles.
The Discover Pass was established by the 2011 Legislature as a vehicle access requirement for state parks and most other state lands in an effort to raise funding for state park management.
Under the proposed legislation, the cost would remain the same, but the pass would be transferable between two vehicles at the same address.
The Discover Pass is required on vehicles to access state parks, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, and any recreation lands or water-access sites managed by Washington State Parks, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Under current law, the Discover Pass costs $30 annually and $10 for a daily pass per vehicle.
The current fine for not displaying a Discover Pass on a vehicle while on state recreation land or a water-access site is $99.
Read on for more details from reporter Maida Suljevic of the Washington Newspaper Publishers News Bureau in Olympia.
PARKS — The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday three-day weekend, Jan. 14-16, will be the first of 10 Washington State Parks “free access days” in 2012.
The Discover Pass will not be required for vehicles at state parks.
Most of State Parks free days are in alignment with free days offered by the National Park Service.
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 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources.
The Discover Pass legislation provided that 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 DFW and DNR lands.
In addition, Sno-Park permits will continue to be required on vehicles at designated lots such as the three at Mount Spokane plowed during winter by the Sno-Park Program.
Following are the 2012 Washington State Parks “free days:”
- Jan. 14-16 – Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
- March 18-19 – Washington State Parks’ 99th birthday (March 19).
- June 9 – National Get Outdoors Day.
- Sept. 29 – National Public Lands Day.
- Nov. 10-12 – Veterans Day weekend.
STATE PARKS — Concerned about the massive layoff of park rangers, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers has asked the state Parks and Recreation Commission to delay sending out notices until after the Legislature meets in January, according to a report by the Wenatchee World.
The Dec. 14 letter raises the issue of public safety in the event nearly half of the 189 full-time permanent park rangers were laid off or given the option of seasonal employment.
Park rangers are fully commissioned law-enforcement officers and respond to incidents in state parks, along with their many other duties.
But state parks officials said any delays would cost the cash-strapped agency $750,000 a month — money they say the agency doesn't have.
STATE PARKS — Riverside and Mount Spokane likely will be combined and full-time employees reduced by about 40 percent as Washington State Parks officials scramble to slash the agency’s budget.
A shortfall from lagging Discover Pass sales has left state parks strapped for cash after being cut off from most taxpayer funding by the Washington Legislature.
Decisions are still being made and changed daily after the Parks and Recreation Commission voted Tuesday to eliminate 161 of the agency’s 516 full-time positions.
“At this point, it looks like a done deal that Riverside and Mount Spokane will be combined,” Chris Guidotti, Riverside State Park manager, said today. He was at his computer making recommendations to the headquarters staff on how the changes might be worked out.
Six of the 14 full-time positions will probably be eliminated, he said.
Riverside has nine full-time rangers plus one other staffer and Mount Spokane has five full-time positions, including three rangers and two staffers geared to road maintenance and equipment repair for the mountain roads.
Steven Christensen, Mount Spokane Park manager, was not available for comment.
“In some cases, full-time employees are being offered five-month positions,” Guidotti said.
“But as it looks today, Riverside and Mount Spokane soon will be operated by fewer people than operate Riverside alone.”
The State Parks and Recreation Commission already had eliminated 80 positions statewide since July 2008.
Riverside State Park covers about 10,000 acres in and around Spokane including the Centennial Trail, Columbia Plateau Trail and Little Spokane River Natural Area. Mount Spokane State Park includes 13,919 acres.
Meanwhile in Olympia, a few people are finally stepping up to say the Discover Pass was ill-conceived policy from the outset, setting the system up for less money, fewer park visits and eventually fewer parks.
Some people at Legislative hearings are making the case that the Legislature should not remove State Parks from General Fund appropriations.
Read on for a report from the Wenatchee World on the carnage to state parks in northcentral Washington.
STATE PARKS — The Washington Parks and Recreation Commisison released a statement to the media Wednesday afternoon regarding its plans to reduce expenses by about $11 million.
About 160 jobs are at risk among the agency's 516 full-time employees.
Read on for the full statement.
PUBLIC LANDS — Nearly a third of Washington’s year-round state parks staffers are being notified this week that they likely will be laid off as a result of lagging sales of the new Discover Pass, according to the News Tribune in Tacoma.
Seasonal jobs will replace most of the 161 positions targeted in Tuesday’s action by the State Parks and Recreation Commission. Some of the same employees might end up taking those jobs, but only for about five months of the year.
The background for thise decision was detailed in my Sunday story, Cash-strapped State Parks banking on Discover Pass, new approach.
The cuts will mean less building maintenance and reaction to winter weather and damages.
The Legislature has cut off parks from state tax funding, banking on the belief that citizens love parks so much they'll buy the Discover Pass to support the system.
But that hasn't been the case, so far.
The parks commission Tuesday agreed to bridge the gap by dipping into reserves and making $11 million in cuts.
“We’re not giving up on the Discover Pass, saying it’s a failure or anything,” said the acting deputy director of parks, Ilene Frisch. “It’s a brand new program that hasn’t had time to gel yet.”
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, and Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, introduced legislation last week that will allow the passes to transfer between two cars — dealing with one of the main public complaints about the Discover Pass vehicle access permit that debuted this year.
“Let’s hope that the changes we’re making will increase the revenue stream,” Ranker told the TNT. “If it doesn’t, then we need to come back together and we need to have a very serious discussion” about revenue.
NORDIC SKIING — Mount Spokane State Park's snowcat groomer is set to roll on the 30-mile nordic skiing trail system starting Thursday night, park manager Steve Christensen said.
A snowmobile groomer has been used to pack many of the trails and a good base is set for the big groomer to pretty up.
“We need more new snow to work with, but it should be good for this weekend,” he said.
A Washington Sno-Park Permit ($40 annual) is required as usual on vehicles for parking in the three Sno-Park lots used at Mount Spokane by snowmobilers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
A Grooming Sticker (additional $40) must be attached to your Sno-Park Permit for parking at the Selkirk Lodge Sno-Park lot where nordic skiers take advantage of the excellent groomed trails.
A Washington Discover Pass ($30 annual) allows parking DURING WINTER only at the limited pull-out spots along the road that are not supported by the Sno-Park program, such as at the vault toilets just inside the park entrance.
Daily permit users beware: Quirky language in the legislation that created the Discover Pass requires state park visitors who buy daily $20 Sno-Park Permits to ALSO have a daily $10 Discover Pass on their vehicles. Park rangers are not happy with that deal, but that's the law they have to enforce until it's changed.
STATE LANDS — Drivers have a new option for buying the $30 annual Discover Pass required for acces to all state parks and most state lands. The Department of Licensing is authorized to accept payment of the Discover Pass when renewing vehicle license tabs.
The pass is available for purchase by those with a vehicle registration expiration date on or after Oct. 1, 2011.
The Discover Pass was created by the 2011 Legislature. Since spring, the pass has been required, with some exceptions, for vehicles entering parks or recreation lands managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
Vehicle owners may purchase the pass at DOL vehicle licensing offices or when renewing tabs online.
Buyers of the pass through the DOL process receive their passes in the mail from WDFW within 10 business days of renewal and purchase.
Transaction and dealer fees ($5) are not charged for annual passes purchased directly from DOL. However, if you buy the pass from a hunting and fishing license vendor, the fees are charged.
The Discover Pass also can be purchased in person from nearly 600 vendors across the state, by telephone (866-320-9933) or online.
In addition, the Discover Pass can be purchased from state parks (for $30) when staff is available.
STATE LANDS — A bipartisan collection of 49 Washington state legislators is siding with state lands users who don't like the complexity of the new Discover Pass parking access requirements for state parks andother state lands.
Two weeks ago, 35 representatives and 14 senators signed and sent a letter asking Washington State Parks director Don Hoch, state wildlife director Phil Anderson and public lands commissioner Peter Goldmark to “refrain from enforcement of the current agency interpretation of non-transferability” until the issue could be readdressed in the 2012 legislative session.
That's silly, since they should know that the law the Washington Legislature passed this spring requires those state agencies to enforce the $30 annual pass.
But it sends a signal that some work needs to be done to improve the system, primarily the restriction prohibiting that pass from being valid for more than one vehicle.
Read on for a more detailed report from Scott Sandsbury of the Yakima Herald-Republic.
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.
Read on for more details and comments.