Keep state parks for everyone's use | Editorial
August 16, 2012 · Updated 2:05 PM
The Legislature wants our state parks system to become 100 percent operationally self-sufficient. Our response is that the idea is – where do we start? – “misguided,” “unattainable,” “self-defeating.” OK, let’s just call it what it is – “stupid.”
Followed to its logical conclusion, the idea either would change the parks to something we no longer would recognize, or make using them so expensive as to put them beyond the reach of the average resident to enjoy.
Consider the situation.
The state has 117 developed parks, 35 heritage sites, 13 interpretive centers and more than 700 historic structures. Keeping them open to the public is – obviously – expensive. But, we call them public parks for a reason – they are available to the public and the public pays taxes to support them.
Our parks system also takes care of important geologic sites, places where our state’s pre-history is preserved, and protects vulnerable habitats.
All of that gives residents places where they can enjoy the natural, cultural and historic treasures that we have in our state. And they do.
The park system estimates that it receives 40 million visits a year. About 94 percent of these are day visits – people just dropping by to enjoy and learn about our state.
The Legislature came up with a way to raise money for parks called the Discover Pass, charging people $30 annually ($10 daily) to use the parks. It’s been a monumental flop, raising less than 50 percent of what was projected.
Not surprisingly, the Parks Commission has rejected the Legislature’s attempt at self-sufficiency. Lawmakers should find the money already raised by our taxes to keep the parks open for all.
– Craig Groshart, Issaquah & Sammamish Reporter