Posts tagged: Washington State Parks
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.
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 PARKS — An Airway Heights couple has been named the state park system's “Hosts of the Year” in the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission's 2010 Volunteer Recognition Awards for outstanding volunteer service.
John and Darlene Lundstrum stood out in during their second year as park hosts at Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park.
In addition to doing general host duties, they helped in the ground breaking of the new amphitheater, delivered sand to the day-use beach, repaired park mowers and developed an equipment usage board. They organized a volunteer cleanup at Camp Delaney Environmental Learning Center (ELC) and developed a safe way to move the heavy grills at the center. At Dry Falls Visitor Center, they developed and constructed garbage receptacle lids that are functional and keep birds and raccoons out. They primed and painted the ELC restroom exterior and helped with the Flood Fest event at Dry Falls, where Darlene Lundstrom dressed as “Eager Beaver” to hand out items to children and visitors.
Last year, volunteers performed 313,461 hours of work, equal to 150 full-time employees.
BOATING — Coulee Playland Resort still offers boat access to Banks Lake, but travelers planning to spend Labor Day weekend at Steamboat Rock State Park may not be able to launch their boat as water levels have dropped too low.
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.
STATE LANDS — Starting today, the new Discover Pass authorized by the Washington Legislature will be required for vehicle access to nearly 7 million acres of Washington state-managed recreation lands – including campgrounds, parks, wildlife areas, trails, natural areas, wilderness areas and water access points.
The $30 seasonal vehicle permit ($10 daily) will be required at state parks and lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The passes are sold at face value at state parks. A $2 dealer fee is added at sport retailers. Fees totaling $5 for the $30 annual pass are added when purchased online.
Sportsmen who have hunting and fishing licenses automatically get a pass for fish and wildlife lands and boat access sites. But that Fish and Wildlife Vehicle Access Pass does not work for state parks and DNR lands.
Read my recent story for more details.
Check this story for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
Click here for a summary of other passes one might need in the Pacific Northwest for outdoor recreation on private, state and federal lands.
STATE LANDS — Employees from three Washignton state agencies will spend the Fourth of July weekend reminding people they need the pass for their vehicles, according to Virginia Painter, spokeswoman for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
Enforcement of the new Discover Pass will begin Tuesday at state parks and state land managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
Vehicles already have been required to have state vehicle passes at Washington Fish and Wildlife access sites, such as Libert Lake boat launch. There's no grace period at those sites.
STATE PARKS — Rock climbers and people fascinated by caves will be among the first to feel the impact of the budget crisis facing Washington's State Parks.
Two state parks in Eastern Washington – Crawford and Peshastin Pinnacles – will not open this season because of initial state budget cuts and more closures are possible, officials said Monday.
Five of the state’s 119 parks are on the list in the first round of closures resulting from the agency’s $10 million budget cut going into the Washington legislative session. However, funding agreements with local governments will keep two of the three West Side parks open — Fort Ward near Bainbridge and Tolmie in Thurston County.
“Now we’re waiting on the Legislature to create the new budget,” said Tom Ernsberger, state parks East Side manager. “They’re wrestling with a lot of really big issues, and parks are just one of them.”
Crawford State Park near Metaline is a 49-acre day-use park featuring Gardner Cave, the third longest limestone cavern in Washington.
Peshastin Pinnacles State Park, north of U.S. Highway 2 near Cashmere, is a 34-acre day-use park featuring trails, sandstone slabs and spires up to 200 feet tall that are popular with rock climbers.
Spring is peak season for climbers heading to Peshastin, which normally opens March 15-Oct. 15.
Read on for more details.
OLYMPIA — With the governor's sobering budget proposal offering no state funding for Washington's state parks, adminstrators are looking under every rock for money — and they're also looking at every car.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
WINTER SPORTS — Snowmobiling will be prohibited this winter on Inland Empire Paper Company lands at Mount Spokane as well as on the rest of the 116,000 acres the company manages in northeastern Washington and North Idaho.
The decision to end the decades-old welcome comes this week after years of effort to stem damage snowmobilers have been inflicting on the commercial timber lands, said Paul Buckland, forest resource manager.
Snowmobilers will be banned from 38 miles of trails previously groomed on IEP land on Mount Spokane, said Angela Simmons of Spokane County Parks and Recreation Department, which manages the grooming.
That leaves 40 miles of trails in the State Park that will continue to be groomed starting sometime after Dec. 1, she said.
“The issue is enforcement,” Buckland said. “Snowmobilers who stay on the groomed trails are no problem. It’s the rogue snowmobilers going off-trail and running over small trees.
“They consider recent harvest harvest areas to be play areas and they don’t realize they’re running over the tops of plantation trees in the snow. That causes the tree to form a second top, which greatly reduces the economic value of the tree.”
WINTER SPORTS — Disregard the previous post about Washington reconsidering Sno-Park permit reciprocity with Oregon. In fact, disregard a lot of proposed rule changes in state government for the time being.
Could this postpone planned changes in fishing and hunting rules? I’m not sure yet, and I’m not the only one.