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Discover Pass required for WA state parks

Starting July 1, Washington residents must pay to visit state parks, including Dash Point State Park in Federal Way.

The state House and Senate recently passed legislation to create the Discover Pass, which will allow access to all 119 state parks and recreation land. An annual pass costs $30 and a daily pass costs $10 per vehicle. Some exceptions apply. For example, visitors do not need a Discover Pass while registered at a fee campsite. The fine for not displaying the pass in a vehicle is $99.

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 keeping state parks from closing. The revenue will help replace diminishing tax dollars available to operate parks and recreation sites. There are proposals to wean state parks off general fund tax support within the next two years.

The Discover 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.

Since 2009, state parks have received 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.

Passes can be purchased wherever state fishing and hunting licenses are sold. Passes are also available online at www.discoverpass.wa.gov or by calling (866) 320-9933.

 

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