Thursday, March 31, 2011

Action Needed to Save Our Washington State Parks

I recently received this letter from the Washington State Parks Foundation (  I've camped in WA State Parks, have visited them for other reasons, and in general think they're wonderful. 

Having no revenue for the State Parks System in the State budget is a BIG problem for WA State Parks.  Please consider a way you can help -- especially time or money, and calling the governor and your representative.

Thank you.  


Dear Friends of State Parks,

Saint Patrick’s Day has come and gone, but there was no pot of gold in the State Revenue Forecast. While the numbers were not as bad as some had feared, the hole in the State Budget is now $500 million deeper.

Gov. Gregoire proposed no general revenue for State Parks in her budget. The only option to preserve our cherished system of State Parks, which turned 98 years old last week, is a revenue package. However, a super majority of 66% in both the House and Senate must agree to raise taxes. The prospect for a tax increase by this legislature is nil.

So, the choice is stark … close more than 100 of our 119 State Parks or charge a user fee. Washington State Parks can only survive with help from their friends.

Sen. Kevin Ranker has been leading the efforts to fund State Parks through a $30.00 Discover Pass. The Discover Pass would allow the holder to access all State Parks, Fish & Wildlife and Dept. of Natural Resource lands for a full year. The pass is estimated to generate $71 million for outdoor recreation in Washington, with 84% going to State Parks. The cost for a single day pass would be $10.00 per vehicle.

Passage of the Discover Pass is not a certainty and a decision likely will come in the final days of the legislature. Already, competing interests are carving out exemptions and loopholes to weaken the impact upon Parks. The Discover Pass should be simple to understand, and not a mish-mash of differing fees.

I ask you to contact your senator and legislators and urge them to support the Discover Pass and to keep the bill simple. You can call the legislature at 1-800-562-6000 or send your senator or representative an email by visiting

As the WA State Parks Foundation prepares to celebrate the State Parks Centennial in 2013, I’m sure you can agree that the worst legacy for future generations would be to close 100 parks and privatize others. We cannot allow this to happen, and the time to act is now.

I also hope that you will consider supporting the Foundation. Please visit our website at to become one of the thousands of contributors to the Foundation’s efforts. Your support of $50, $100 or more will help us leave a legacy for future generations like the one our forefathers left us; the treasure that is the Washington State Parks system. Please help!


Sam Garst, Chair
Washington State Parks Foundation

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