Lake Sammamish park users split over access fees

Enjoying the local park will now cost park patrons $10 for the day or $30 for a year-long Discover Pass. The passes are also required at Department of Natural Resources trails, like Tiger Mountain.

Tisha White practices ground maneuvers with her paraglider at Lake Sammamish State Park. She doesn't mind the state's new access fees for state parks

A paraglider who frequents Lake Sammamish State Park for ground practice, Tisha White doesn’t mind the state’s new $30 parking passes.

It’s a small cost compared to practicing the addictive sport, she said.

Enjoying the local park will now cost park patrons $10 for the day or $30 for a year-long Discover Pass. The passes are also required at Department of Natural Resources trails, like Tiger Mountain.

At Lake Sammamish, park aids were busy selling the passes out of a booth during the Fourth of July weekend.

The park is in a grace period for violators, while the agency is still getting the word out. Eventually, patrons caught parking their cars without a pass could face a $99 fine.

The overall response from people who’ve purchased the passes has been positive, because they know the money is going to the parks, said Ranger Heath Yeats.

Not everyone agrees.

“I already pay enough taxes,” said Matthew Floyd, who visited the beach to enjoy the sun with his family. “You got to put a foot down somewhere.”

His friend, Mike Fraley echoed the thought, “When does it stop?”

Floyd said he wouldn’t buy the pass, and simply wouldn’t return.

The state doesn’t care that people like Floyd won’t use the park, and it doesn’t care that some people can’t afford it, because some people will still pay, Fraley said. “They’re going to get something out of it.”

State parks and DNR trails were free up until this summer, when state lawmakers axed the $60 million parks budget in hopes that the department could sell enough passes to be self-sustaining.

As of today, none of the money raised through the passes goes to the state’s general fund, although some Republicans have questioned how long that will last.

The access passes are good for parking for state parks, DNR hiking trails and Fish and Wildlife land.

At Lake Sammamish State Park, boat launch fees jumped from $7 to $17 to include the daily parking fee. Boaters can also pay $70 for an annual pass.

The annual passes are car-specific, with a license plate number written in permanent marker across the front.

In addition to buying the passes at state park offices, outdoor enthusiasts can pick them up at sporting goods stores, such as Fred Meyer and Big 5, and online at discoverpass.wa.gov.

Tisha White practices ground maneuvers with her paraglider at Lake Sammamish State Park. She doesn’t mind the state’s new access fees for state parks, beach access and hiking trails, as long as she can keep flying. An annual pass is $30.

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