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Hikers in Olympia Today, Lobbying to Keep State Lands Open

Posted by Lauren Braden at Feb 09, 2011 09:40 AM |

Nearly one hundred hikers are in the state capitol for Hiker Lobby Day, organized by Washington Trails Association. After a morning issue briefing and training session, hikers will spend the afternoon meeting with their state representatives and senators, urging their support for state recreation lands.

Does SB 5622 mean anything to you? How about HB 1796? If you're one of the dozens of hikers in Olympia today for Hiker Lobby Day, you'll be saying these bill numbers a lot, and hoping legislators remember to vote "yes" on them.

These legislative bills authorize the Discover Pass - a vehicle access pass for all State Parks, DNR lands and WDFW lands that would cost $30 annually, or $10 per day. State recreation lands, from Mount Si to Deception Pass State Park, will have to close their gates this summer if the legislature does not act soon to authorize a new sustainable funding source to manage these important places.

So, why do all of these hikers need to take a day off to meet with their legislators in Olympia to get this legislation passed?  Hiker Lobby Day, organized by Washington Trails Association, is a crucial step in moving the new fee legislation forward. After a morning issue briefing and training session, participants will spend the afternoon meeting with their state representatives and senators, urging their support for the new funding source for state recreation lands. The critical mass of hikers who care deeply about these lands and the personal contact with legislators through in-person meetings can have the big impact WTA needs to secure solid support for these bills.

Hiker Lobby Day participants have the backing of thousands more hikers with them, too. They'll be delivering copies of the petition in support of funding state lands that has been signed by over 2,000 hikers.

Want to help? Follow Hiker Lobby Day on twitter or facebook, and participate in our Virtual Hiker Lobby Day. Thanks for your support for state hiking trails!

Comments

Hikers in Olympia Today, Lobbying to Keep State Lands Open

Explain to me how this is a good deal! I understand the individual pass have been worse. But now I will need to purchase a Forest pass, a Discover Pass, National Parks pass and possibly a special use pass (StHelens, Enchantments,and ??). Now I have to keep track of at least three expensive passes, figure out which (if any)I will need before a hike, and which vehicle I will drive. I can't believe that the advocates at WTA feel this is a victory. This pass is never going to go away but it will surely get more expensive. This is an example of stupid government run wild and the WTA likes the idea. It is this sort of legislation which gives life to Tim Eyman. You can be sure when this comes up for a vote, the fact that the WTA endorses the idea will sway votes in the house and senate. I just hope it doesn't help enough to get past the 66% super majority rule for new taxes.

The estimate of funds raised does not pass a squint test. The pass is predicted to generate about $35 million a year. There are only 6 million people in Washington. Does anyone really think that 1 in 6 people is going to buy one of these passes each year. Even so, the dollar amount raised is not very large. A couple million a year will get sucked up in administration, printing, enforcement and distributing the pass.

Sorry for the rant. This is silly on almost all levels and I am really sick of govt nuisance fees and permits. If its important to keep trails open,and I think it is, it should come out of the general funds. I can't understand why WTA, who should represent the best interest of hikers, would advocate requiring another pass. If this goes through I will probably withdraw my support for the WTA. I can't want to fund a group which is working against my best interests. This is not the time for the WTA to do a victory dance.

Posted by:


Tacoman on Feb 10, 2011 01:33 PM

Hikers in Olympia Today, Lobbying to Keep State Lands Open

John, I am not excited about needing a pass for State Lands either. I buy a National Parks pass each year, do trail work to earn my Northwest Forest Pass each year, and buy a snow park pass each winter. I am a very high frequency user of these recreation areas and figure since I get more value from these areas than the citizens that never use them I will go ahead and pay the extra fees. ... My personal choice.

The question I have for you is: How would you solve the funding problem to keep the State Land open for recreation?

Posted by:


Marty; Have saw, will travel. on Feb 10, 2011 06:31 PM

Hikers in Olympia Today, Lobbying to Keep State Lands Open

There are a couple of things to get past the crisis:

The state budget short fall is only 2mil on 30 mil of total expendatures. Take the 6% hit on trail head maintainance and move along. Defer maintaince and improvements until better times. The DNR actually brings in a lot of money to the state through timber sales (I believe it is targeted to schools, so leave that alone) so its not as if the agency will fold up.

Roll up all the state and federal passes into one super pass and charge a reasonable amount ($80-100?). This would be best solution. This would be hard. No one holds our elected officials accountable to do hard things, like get on the phone and coordinate with their counterpart in the National forest service. This would also mean sharing you toys. Apparently the don't share well. Its just a lot easier to screw the citizen with another piece of paper.

The DNR probably would love to have a pass system for hikers. This is how bureaucrats get ahead in the system. Regulate, regulate and regulate. Any businessman would roll with a 6% shortfall. DNR is using it as an excuse to for increased regulation. No trail are going to be shut down and access will not be restricted. Thats just a silly scare tactic. As the great Raum Emmmanual said in an unfortunate moment of recorded candor, "Never let a crisis go to waste".

Once again, I have a hard time believing that the WTA supports this kind of solution. They have got too close to Olympia politics and forgot about the people they are supposed to be representing. It is sad.

Posted by:


Tacoman on Feb 11, 2011 09:55 AM

Hikers in Olympia Today, Lobbying to Keep State Lands Open

Should have said 2 billion out of a budget of about 30 billion.
Sorry, the numbers should at least be credible.

Posted by:


Tacoman on Feb 11, 2011 01:54 PM

Hikers in Olympia Today, Lobbying to Keep State Lands Open

Hi John, I hope your still monitoring this topic. Sorry for the delay in reply.

You are correct that DNR cannot mix logging money with recreation money. That is based on how DNR was originally chartered to do it's founding mission of Trust Support. DNR's recreation mission was formally created in the 1960's I believe and was to be funded from the State's General Fund, but cannot use Trust Fund money.

As for cooperation between agencies, I don't think that is as much an elected offical problem as it is an appointed offical problem combined with an internal beaurocratic problem within the agencies themselves. Below the very uppermost levels, these agencies have had the same people working for them regardless of who was elected to office. These are the folks who make things happen. I believe these are the folks who need to get on the phone and call one another.

Posted by:


Marty; Have saw, will travel. on Feb 15, 2011 11:22 AM

Hikers in Olympia Today, Lobbying to Keep State Lands Open

John,

I hear your frustrations. I share them. This issue is frustrating. WTA has been fighting continually on behalf of hikers for general fund appropriations to keeps state parks and DNR lands open for the past three years. Each year, the budget situation gets worse, and the prospects of obtaining general fund dollars for these lands gets more and more slim. This year, in 2011, that prospect was off the table.

I don't "like the idea" of fees. We're facing reality here, because if we don't, these lands will close. That's our choice. Find a new source of funding for now (a fee structure) or these lands close. We've known this for months. That's why we've engaged hikers and our members in this discussion as openly and honestly as we could -- here on this blog, on our Facebook page, and at our events -- to get a sense for what hikers were willing to do. Pay a fee or not? If so, how much? We listened. When the fee proposal from DNR was unreasonable, we responded quickly, and were successful in getting fee proposal legislation we could live with, and that many hikers told us they could live with.

Our public lands deserve sustainable and stable funding. We believe that recreation is a core public resource, and that these state recreation lands - from state parks to DNR lands - should be supported by appropriated general fund dollars in times of state prosperity. These are not times of state prosperity.

It's frustrating to keep track of another access pass, and hard to part with those dollars. Maybe you will choose not to purchase the Discover Pass. At least if this legislation passes, though, these state lands will stay open so you'll have that choice to make.

Posted by:


Jonathan Guzzo on Feb 15, 2011 11:14 AM