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Bogachiel State Park gets a reprieve for now

Charging $30 for annual Department of State Parks recreational pass is the best solution for keeping the parks open.

That’s the opinion of lawmakers in the state senate and house who have sent a bill to Gov. Chris Gregoire that will begin imposing the fee by this summer.

Gregoire is reviewing the bill, but is expected to sign it soon.

The bill creates a $30 annual Discover Pass, and a $10 day-use permit for entrance to all state parks.

The recreational areas include those under control of the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources as well.

Patt Doyle of Forks has lobbied extensively in Olympia for keeping Bogachiel State Park open, as well as State Park holdings at Cowen’s Ranch near Clallam Bay and other state park holdings along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

State Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-San Juan Islands) introduced the bill. Ranker said he sees it as the only way to keep the state parks open to campers and other park users.

The goal of the bill is to raise an additional $64 million in revenue over the next two years to stave off closing parks or raising other recreational fees. Bogahchiel State Park has been listed by some as low on the list for parks that would remain open should the plan fail.

Currently a voluntary $5.00 contribution to the state park fund is collected when vehicles are registered by the state. However, not enough funds were raised under that plan.

A report on the website of the seven-member Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, which is appointed by the governor,  shows Washington State Parks receiving $20 million from the state’s general fund, with the expectation that the department will raise $110 million of its budget through user fees. Some $46 million is already raised through charging camping, facility rental fees and other sources.
The governor's plan ends general fund funding of state parks by the beginning of the state’s two-year, 2013-15, biennium budget.

A detail of the bill before the governor includes a clause that ensures no recreation areas or state parks will be closed if the bill is enacted, apparently assuming the Discover Card plan is accepted by state park users.

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