Staff at Bogachiel State Park to be downsized

Due to a $11 million shortfall in state park funds the management of  Bogachiel State Park is undergoing a  management downsizing.  

State Park Ranger Chon Clayton,  who has been posted at Bogachiel State Park for 17 years and has some  30 years seniority in the state park  system, is being offered several positions  at out-of-area state parks.  

The recent special session of the  Legislature ended on Wednesday, Dec. 14. Some $480 million was  trimmed from the state budget  during the session, including the  cutbacks at state parks.  

About 160 state park employees,  including about 83 rangers located  at parks, and state park employees  working desk jobs at state park offices, would be affected by statewide downsizing. Some 83 rangers would  reportedly lose their jobs. Through  the downsizing plan no state parks are to be closed.

Clayton explained the situation at a recent Wednesday morning meeting  of the West End Business and  Professional Association.  He said that a State Park Ranger  located in Sequim will be taking over  oversight of the Bogachiel State Park, making a two-hour drive out to Forks. Clayton has resided on-site at the park. The Sequim ranger oversee on-site  park aides would take care of the maintenance of the Bogachiel State Park and collect fees. However, they would lack the law enforcement jurisdiction that full-time ranges are given, which includes carrying a firearm.  

The Legislature has mandated  that the state parks system must now pay much more of their own way rather than relay on funding from the state’s general funds account. This would be through revenue from   camping fees and a vehicle entry fee   system known as the Discover Pass. Sales of the state’s $30.00 annual   Discover Pass are slow, and revenue  is well below that planned for. A state parks press release shows   the Discover Pass program raised $6.5 million in its fi rst four months of operation, which began last summer.  

Nearly all monies from the state’s general fund are now cut off to state parks..The Discover Pass program went into effect in July. Previously, the state hoped to raise additional state park funds by having motorists donate $5 when they registered their vehicles. Such as system helps fund state parks in Montana. However, that system so far has brought in only a fraction of the funds needed.  

The Washington Federation of State Employees is fighting to save the job scheduled to be eliminated.   The union is supporting passage by Congress of the Main Street Fairness Act, which allows the states   to collect taxes from Internet sales made by out-of-state buyers with hopes that would include the funding needed for the parks. The union also hopes the Legislature will consider alternative ways of   making up the $11 million shortfall in state parks funding. The changes being proposed include   allowing the $30 Discover Pass to be used on more than one vehicle owned by a pass buyer. Now only one vehicle is covered by the pass, deterring buyers.

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