OLYMPIA - Nature lovers will have to pull out their wallets as a new law will require vehicles to have a pass in order to access state recreation areas.
Flanked by recreation enthusiasts, Gov. Chris Gregoire late last week signed legislation that will keep state park and recreation lands open with revenue from a vehicle access pass known as the Discover Pass.
"It is essential that we keep our recreation areas open to the public," said Gregoire. "I applaud the legislature for coming together with a solution that allows us to help keep our state recreation lands open and accessible during the worst budget crisis in the state's history."
The Discover Pass will be required as of July 1 for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The pass - which will be available for sale in mid-June - will cost $30 a year per vehicle or $10 for a day-use pass. State recreation lands include state parks, boat launches, campgrounds, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and trailheads.
Holders of certain types of fishing and hunting licenses, registered campers in state parks and other users are exempt from some Discover Pass requirements.
Once available, the Discover Pass can be purchased at one of nearly 600 sporting goods or other retail stores that sell hunting and fishing licenses. It will also be available for purchase online or by calling toll free 1-866-320-9933.
Beginning this fall, the public will be able to purchase a pass when renewing a vehicle license through the Washington State Department of Licensing.
The Discover Pass or day-use pass must be visibly displayed in the front windshield of any motor vehicle.
Revenue from the Discover Pass will fill budget gaps created by the loss of State General Fund support for parks and recreation on state lands. Revenue will be split among the three state agencies that provide recreational access to state lands in proportion to their need for general fund replacement: 84 percent to State Parks; 8 percent to WDFW; and 8 percent to DNR.
State Parks, WDFW and DNR jointly requested legislation that led to the creation of the Discover Pass, intended to provide revenue to maintain recreation access to state lands and meet the increasing demand for outdoor recreation.
The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Islands, who conducted stakeholder work and coordinated with other legislators.
In addition to providing a stable source of revenue, the legislation provides reciprocal authority for law enforcement staff from each agency, which will improve public safety and help protect state resources.
For further information on the Discover Pass, visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov.