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Dash Point State Park will re-open for Memorial Day weekend | Public faces access fees for state parks
Officials hope to have Dash Point State Park open to the public before the busy Memorial Day weekend.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission had originally planned for Dash Point to re-open May 15. The entire park was shut down last fall to complete construction on a new sewer system. The work is taking longer than anticipated and the commission is also in the process of removing some “hazard trees” from Dash Point, said Linda Burnett, spokeswoman with the state parks.
“There was some safety issues with some trees,” she said. “We are going to get our arbor crew in there and take out those problem trees. We are hoping to open on (Friday) May 27 in time for Memorial Day weekend. That’s what we are shooting for.”
The state’s arbor crew was scheduled to start work clearing the hazard trees on Monday, according to Burnett.
Dash Point State Park is a 398-acre camping park with 3,301 feet of saltwater shoreline on Puget Sound in Federal Way. In the late 1940s, the McLeod family sold the land to the state with the understanding the property would be used as a park. The park was dedicated in 1962.
There are 114 tent-camping spaces, 27 utility spaces, one dump station and four restrooms inside the park’s boundaries. The standard campsite is $22 for a non-premium site and $25 for a premium site.
Late last year, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced that Dash Point would close for eight months to complete the construction on a new sewer system.
The park, located on Dash Point Road in Federal Way, experienced temporary closures in the past due to sewer system failures, according to the commission. The old sewer consisted of a combination of septic tanks, pump stations, force mains and septic drain fields that periodically failed, causing temporary closures. The sewer system was rebuilt with $3.4 million from the 2009-2011 capital budget, according to the commission.
The new sewer system now flows directly into the Lakehaven Utility District’s Lakota wastewater treatment plant, which is located across Dash Point Road from the park, according to Burnett.
“This really opened up the park quite a bit,” she said. “They have been planting new vegetation.”
It looks like the public will have to pay for the use of Dash Point and other state parks starting in July. The state House and Senate recently passed legislation to create something called the Discover Pass, which will allow access to all 119 state parks and recreation land.
The bill, which awaits a signature from Gov. Chris Gregoire, proposes the Discover Pass to cost $10 a day or $30 a year per vehicle. The new fees would go into effect July 1. Gregoire can sign the bill within the next 20 days. Some exceptions apply. For example, visitors wouldn’t need a Discover Pass while they are registered at a fee campsite.
The Discover Pass legislation was requested by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, together with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
According to the commission, the legislation is essential to replace diminishing tax dollars available to operate parks and recreation sites. With proposals to wean state parks off general fund tax support within the next two years, the concept of the new pass was to ask people who use parks to pay for them.
“As lawmakers discuss the most drastic budget cuts in state history, we need to align our revenues with our expectations about our quality of life,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-San Juan Island), the bill’s sponsor. “We need to talk about not just how much our outdoor recreation services cost, but also about how much it costs to lose them. Without this legislation, we will witness widespread closure of state parks and other public facilities.”
The pass is expected to generate $64 million to $72 million every two years. The State Parks and Recreation Commission will receive 84 percent of the revenue; the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Natural Resources will each receive 8 percent.
The state parks commission gets the majority because it faces a cut of more than $50 million in general fund tax support in the governor’s new budget proposal.
The plan is for the Discover Pass to be sold through the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s WILD license purchasing system at the beginning. Purchase opportunities will be added through the Department of Licensing’s vehicle registration process starting in the fall.
Since 2009, state parks has been receiving donations from an option the Legislature approved for the state motor vehicle license renewal form. From October 2009 through September 2010, state parks received $23.9 million through the vehicle registration donations.