www.TraditionalMountaineering.org ™ and also www.AlpineMountaineering.org ™
FREE BASIC TO ADVANCED
ALPINE MOUNTAIN CLIMBING INSTRUCTION™
Home | Information | Photos | Calendar | News | Seminars | Experiences | Questions | Updates | Books | Conditions | Links | Search
Search this site!
Washington legislature calls for repeal ofstate pay to play fees
Op-Ed : Welcome mat out at state parks again
Seattle Post- Intelligencer
By Nora Porter - Guest Columnist
Tuesday, March 7, 2006
The nearly impossible is about to happen. The Legislature and Gov. Christine Gregoire are ready to give the state parks back to the people who own them, acknowledging that the parking-fee experiment proved dismally inefficient.
Designed to raise revenue to reduce the $300 million backlog of deferred maintenance, it arguably reduced it 1 percent. The administrative cost-benefit ratio is the highest in state government, 2005 parking revenue was lower than 2004 and volunteerism suffered along with attendance. Instead of getting better, things got worse.
Three years ago, when the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission imposed parking fees at all state parks, the Citizens’ Advisory Committee of the Fort Worden State Park and Conference Center in Port Townsend was horrified. Not only were the fees restrictive to our own residents and threatening to the parks’ neighborhoods, they were tantamount to a barrier at the city limits, undermining our huge investments in tourism.
To prevent this looming disaster, we scurried to negotiate a “buyout contract” with state parks. Over three years, we raised $150,000 to keep Fort Worden free of day-use parking fees and accessible to locals and tourists alike. It wasn’t easy in that economy but it paid off just as we suspected. As “tourism insurance,” it protected nearly 200 jobs at Fort Worden and hundreds more in local businesses. Unlike nearly every other state park, our attendance went up and revenue grew all three years.
This incontrovertible evidence became the basis for a citizens’ performance audit of the parking fee program. The result was House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler’s legislation to rescind the parking fee statewide and prevent access fees. Privatizing a sunset or a walk on the beach to raise such few dollars to “lessen the burden on the general fund” is ridiculous in a $26 billion biennial budget.
State government must stop treating state parks as an inconvenient stepchild and address the revenue needs of a fabulous parks system in a rapidly growing state. Whether recruiting or retaining businesses, or enticing tourists and conventions, state parks are among our greatest quality-of-life assets. They should be routinely funded as a priority of government.
To that end, I ask Gregoire to use her leadership skills to convene a parks summit this year and hammer out, once and for all, a long-term funding solution for state parks and recreation. Remember, the Washington State Parks Centennial celebration is just six years away; the British Columbia Olympics, only four.
Eliminating parking fees is not only a tax cut for all citizens. It also eliminates an unintended burden on local governments. Free county and city parks became magnets for low-income park lovers and middle-class families, saddling local governments’ already strapped budgets with another unfunded mandate. Rescinding parking fees will restore balance, not to mention quality of life for millions of Washington residents. It will reinvigorate rural economic development, where state parks are a key driver for diversification through tourism.
Once again, the welcome mat will be out. Washington will be the only Western state with free access to exceptional recreation and historic sites. The state tourism office should be ecstatic; there is no better grabber in advertising than the word free!
Nora Porter of Port Townsend is a member of the Fort Worden State Parks Advisory Committee.
Note: This is a very upbeat Op-Ed about
the people of Washington being given back their right to enjoy their State Park
system. This is wonderful news indeed.
Sadly, the government in Washington DC does not seem nearly so willing to give the American people back their right to enjoy their national forests and other, federally managed, public lands.
If the States can admit their mistake and undo the harm they did by pursuing ill-conceived recreation fee-policies, surely the Federal Government can be convinced to do likewise.
Now would be an excellent time to remind your Congressmen and Senators what you think of the Recreation Access Tax. Unlike Washington State, the agencies based in Washington DC will be charging you more, and higher, recreation fees this summer than in years past.
Contributed to TraditionalMountaineering.org by our friend:
Scott Silver, Wild Wilderness
Webmeister's note: Scott Silver was one of the first activists to recognize the real threat of Fee Demo. Please take the time to read our Fee Demo postings below. Congress must restore traditional funding to our land management agencies, not sell them off to private enterprise! --Webmeister Speik
Read more . . .
Western Slope No Fee Coalition
Arizona No Fee Coalition
Fee Demo and Climbing Fees
Oregon legislature votes to repeal new federal Recreation Access Tax
Disney to offer "adventure tours" in Yellowstone - An Editorial
Fee Demo fees replaced by new Recreation Access Fees
Fee Demo groundwork may save Geocaching on our public lands
Fee Demo program made permanent through last minute political deal!
Reserve your next backcountry adventure!
Fees, forests don't always fit, by Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho
Congressman Greg Walden limits fee demo
Fee demo program discriminates against our poor folks
Fee Demo looses to grass roots outrage
Fee Demo Forest Pass dropped at 20 sites on the Deschutes National Forest!
Senator Regula's Fee Demo support and The Wilderness Center, Inc.
Senator Craig calls Fee Demo a failed program
Outdoor recreation in Oregon far from free
Oregon Field Guide: “Pay to Play on Public Land”
National Park Service plans climbing fees increase!
Fee demo rejected by USFS employees
Fee demo has "fallen short" - Senator Craig
Fee demo demonstrations
The Badlands Wilderness
Wilderness workshop for USDA Forest Service held by University of Idaho
BLM's UDRMP plans for Badlands deal with exploding public use
Map, compass and GPS navigation training Noodle in The Badlands
Deschutes County Commissioners fail to support Badlands Wilderness!
Deschutes County takes no position on Badlands Wilderness
Deschutes County Commissioner DeWolf supports Badlands Wilderness
OpEd - Dirt road through The Badlands must close
Photos of Road 8 damage sent to Commissioners
Badlands Wilderness with a road?
The Badlands have unique interest for the hiker
BLM guidelines for Geocaching on public lands
Geocaching on Federal Forest Lands
OpEd - Geocaching should not be banned in the Badlands
Fee Demo groundwork may save Geocaching on our public lands
Protest of exclusion of Geocaching in Badlands WSA in BLM's UDRMP
BLM's UDRMP puts Bend's Badlands off limits to Geocaching
Deschutes County Commissioners hearing on Badlands Wilderness support
OHV use restricted in Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan
Winter hiking in The Badlands WSA just east of Bend
Tread Lightly OHV USFS tip of the month
OHVs to be held to designated trails by USDA Forest Service!
New pole shows Badlands Wilderness favored by voters
BLM posts Reward for information on Juniper rustlers
BLM weighing public input on management plan
Oregon's Badlands hit by old growth Juniper rustlers Photos
Congressman Greg Walden to visit The Badlands
Badlands Wilderness endorsed by COTA
OpEd - Unregulated OHV use is being reviewed across the western states
OHV use curtailed by new USFS policy decisions
Sierra Club's Juniper Group supports Badlands Wilderness
OHV regulation discussed at BLM meeting in Bend, Oregon
OpEd - Badlands part of BLM's recreation management area
OpEd - We need the Badlands Wilderness
OpEd - Off-roaders have no reason to fear Badlands Wilderness designation
Speak for the Badlands at Town Hall Meeting
Hiking poles are becoming essential gear
Vandals destroy ancient pictographs in the Badlands
Senator Wyden tests support of Badlands Wilderness
Badlands Wilderness endorsed by Bend City Commissioners
The Badlands: proposed for Wilderness status
The Badlands unique geologic forms explained by Chitwood pdf
The Badlands, a brief history
The Badlands pictographs reported 75 year ago
An update on the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge in Oregon
The Store Wars best with broadband!
TraditionalMountaineering adopts the Crooked River through Smith Rock State Park
The Republican Political Party is responsible?
Times Up, by Yvon Chouinard
Nation's forests might be on the road to ruin, by President Bill Clinton
Wilderness at risk from new Bush policies
Steens management scandal may affect wilderness study areas
BLM outsourced Steens Management Plan to mining industry leaders!
Owyhee River wilderness study area inventory with ONDA
OHV vandals charged in Yellowstone
Oregon's B and B Complex fire closure modified
Senate says NO to Big Oil in Alaska
Gloria Flora - Environmental Hero
Re-introducing wolves into Oregon
George Bush overlooking the environment