Making Progress, Thanks to You
Olympia is listening! A new proposal being floated would establish a combined DNR-DFW-State Parks recreation pass that would be on a per car (not per person) basis.
Who wants some sausage? We're making sausage!
But don't grab the mustard just yet. As the third week of this legislative session concludes, DNR's recreation fee legislation is moving mighty slowly. And yet there are signs of progress. A draft proposal is now circulating that would charge $10 per car to visit DNR, Fish and Wildlife and State Parks lands. In this proposal, public lands visitors could get a $30 annual pass when they renewed their motor vehicle tabs.
To us, this a much better option than the earlier draft proposal that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) released, proposing a required user fee of $10 per person per day or a $40 annual pass for each person. These amounts are dramatically out of sync with the Forest Service's fees and we've argued against these fees fearing that they will not only drive people off of DNR lands, but would also be extremely challenging to enforce.
Getting the proposed numbers from $10 per person to $10 per car was no small task. We want to thank the 1,700 people who signed WTA's petition for more reasonable fees on DNR lands. WTA would also like to thank Senator Kevin Ranker, who chairs the Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee for hearing the concerns of the public and working up a redraft that makes more sense from an administrative perspective, sets reasonable fee amounts--remember, this latest fee proposed is per carload--and will likely result in state lands staying open until state revenues start to tick up again.
Your calls and signatures have helped us get this far, but this legislation is still working its way through the hopper. It should be on the table soon, and when it is, hikers who love these landscapes must weigh in. None of us want to pay more fees, but the state budget situation is dire. We have to bite the bullet and make the same commitment to these lands that we've made to Forest Service lands over the years.
If you want to help, attend WTA's Hiker Lobby Day on February 9. This event is a great opportunity to meet with your legislators, who are always happy to see their constituents. You'll learn tips on how to persuade members, meet other hikers and make a difference in how our public lands are managed. And, at the end of the session, you'll be able to say that you helped keep Mount Si, Umtanum Canyon and Wallace Falls open for the public.