OUTPAY – Washington’s new Discover Pass is not a substitute for Sno-Park Permits at Mount Spokane parking areas for snowshoeing, snowmobiling and nordic skiing – a rule that caused considerable frustration among visitors over Thanksgiving.
The Sno-Park program is separate from the Discover Pass, and winter sports enthusiasts are better off if it stays that way, said Steve Christensen, Mount Spokane State Park manager.
“The Discover Pass gives you access to all state park parking areas during the summer season, but during winter it’s the Sno-Park Program that pays to plow the snow and groom the trails,” he said.
Winter sports likely would lose control of money for grooming and plowed parking areas if the funding from the two programs were combined, he said. “The Discover Pass is aimed and funding overall operations and state parks,” he said. “Skiers and snowmobilers probably don’t want their share going into a big pot.”
Before going to Mount Spokane this winter, consider which pass or permit you’ll need:
• Sno-Park Permit ($40 annual) is required on vehicles for parking in the three Sno-Park lots used at Mount Spokane by snowmobilers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
• Grooming Sticker (additional $40) must be attached to the Sno-Park Permit for parking at the Selkirk Lodge Sno-Park lot where nordic skiers stage to use the groomed trails.
• 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, like at the vault toilets near the park entrance.
Daily permit warning: 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 must enforce until it’s changed.
• Downhill ski area patrons do not need any of the parking passes when patronizing Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park when lifts are being operated.
Programs feature research
• Steelhead fisheries in Washington, and update on Olympic Peninsula’s Elwha River Dam removal, by Rob Masoni, Trout Unlimited Western vice president, Tuesday, 7 p.m., at Northern Lights Brewery, 1003 E. Trent Ave.
• Whitetail deer research project in northeastern Washington, by Woody Myers, WDFW wildlife biologist, Tuesday, 7 p.m., Inland Northwest Wildlife Council auditorium, 6116 N. Market St.
Winter Fest features elk, raptors
OUTDO – The annual Turnbull Winter Festival is set for Saturday at the refuge headquarters south of Cheney. Featured attractions include:
• Elk Tour, 9 a.m. Preregister for limited seating in vans that tour otherwise restricted areas of the refuge to see elk. Call 235-4531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Live raptors, 11 a.m.-noon, presented by West Valley Outdoor Learning Center.
• Chili feed, refreshments, noon-1 p.m.