Trails for everyone, forever

Home News Blog Discover Pass Victory

Discover Pass Victory

Posted by Jonathan Guzzo at Apr 22, 2011 02:15 PM |

The Discover Pass has been enacted by the Washington state legislature, and now awaits only the signature of Governor Gregoire to be signed into law. What hikers did to ensure that state recreation lands stay open this year.

Well, we did it! State Parks and DNR lands that are so very important to hikers like you and I, from Deception Pass to Mount Si to Beacon Rock, will be open for hiking this summer! The Discover Pass has been enacted by the Washington state legislature, and now awaits only the signature of Governor Gregoire to be signed into law.

The exciting final moments of the passage of SB 5622 by both the Senate and the House were chronicled in my last post - click here for a refresher.

Everyone who worked on the Discover Pass deserves high fives and bear hugs, and none more so than all the hikers who stood up and said their public lands were important to them. I want to give a special shout-out to the folks who traveled to Olympia for Hiker Lobby Day, signed our online petition for a reasonable Discover Pass, and to all of you who wrote or called your legislators to help get this legislation passed.

WTA could not have passed this critical legislation to keep State Parks and DNR lands funded, open and maintained without the help of hikers like you. Thank you.

If you've followed the Discover Pass, you know its passage was not easy. Remember last year when the first proposal was called the Explore Washington Pass, and the user fee proposed was $40 per person, not per vehicle? WTA believed then that these state lands needed stable, dedicated sources of funding, but that the user fee system enacted to provide such funding needed to be reasonable and enforceable. Your tenacious support allowed us to advocate a more sensible and supportable fee structure than the original option forwarded by the agencies.

Here are the important changes we were able to bring about in the Discover Pass thanks to the support of hiker activists:

  • We lobbied legislators to change the user fee proposal to a $30 per vehicle pass, much like the Northwest Forest Pass.
  • We advocated a lower volunteer hour requirement to earn a free annual pass, and were successful in changing this requirement from 40 hours to 24.
  • We pushed for a single pass for all three agencies instead of a confusing multi-pass system.

Again, these changes were brought about because of the impressive, unyielding support of WTA's activist powerhouse--hikers who cared and spoke out. Thank you.

It's also very appropriate to single out Senators Kevin Ranker and Dan Swecker, prime and second sponsors of SB 5622, for their careful stewardship and constant engagement with the recreation community as they worked this bill. Representative Kevin Van De Wege, prime sponsor of the House counterpart also deserves thanks for his great work keeping this bill moving.

If you'd like all the gritty detail, I'd suggest checking out the legislature's page on SB 5622.  Or to watch the floor debate as it unfolded, check out TVW's archived coverage. Debate on SB 5622 starts about 40 minutes into the archive.

In coming weeks and months, we'll keep you updated on how and where to purchase an annual or day pass. The agencies who benefit from and administer this pass will have to get it implemented pretty quickly, and we'll keep you informed every step of the way.

For now, let's do a little victory dance...or better yet, a victory hike on one of your favorite state public lands.

Comments

not victory

What victory? We could visit DNR land for free and now will have to pay for it. If we could visit DNR lands with a forest pass it would be ok. I am afraid few hikers will visit DNR trails now, definitely not me, maybe a few hunters and fishers.

Posted by:


mikej on Apr 22, 2011 05:44 PM

Maintaining Access

I'm happy that we found a solution that will ultimately keep the trails open.

I'm not super happy about the additional costs for the passes and changes for DNR lands. However, I still believe these changes are better than the alternative (no access). I'm supportive of efforts to get state spending under control. Hard times call for hard choices and this is just one of them.

I'm interested in getting more details on the volunteer program for earning a Discover Pass. 24 hours seems very reasonable and I've wanted to volunteer with the parks anyway! I’m looking forward to any details that you can share.

Posted by:


"Trail Guy" on Apr 24, 2011 07:15 PM

Single Pass?

Congratulations, but talking about "victory" here seems a bit over the top to me as well.

Regarding "we pushed for a single pass for all three agencies instead of a confusing multi-pass system." What's the outcome of this?

Posted by:


"Eric Jain" on Apr 25, 2011 12:00 PM

Discover Pass

Mike, The victory is that DNR lands and State Parks will remain open. Without the Discover Pass, people would not be able to visit them at all, whether or not they are willing and able to pay a user fee. I understand and empathize with your user fee fatigue. We believe the Discover Pass is an important safety net to supplement recreation funding in the face of our state's unprecedented budget cuts these past few years. But these funds should not replace appropriated general fund dollars in times of state prosperity.

And to be clear, there is only one pass that covers three state agencies--DNR, Fish and Wildlife and State Parks.

Posted by:


"Jonathan Guzzo" on Apr 26, 2011 08:14 AM

Dscover Pass

"We advocated a lower volunteer hour requirement to earn a free annual pass, and were successful in changing this requirement from 40 hours to 24."

My question is, volunteer where to do what?
In looking at the WTA schedule there appear to be very few work parties on State Park land and I really can't identify any DNR locations. And I don't think we do much for Fish and Wildlife.

And who's going to administer the volunteer program that get's you a free Discover Pass?

Posted by:


"Tom Mayernik" on May 11, 2011 11:08 AM