Sen. Hargrove bill would let Discover Pass transfer to another vehicle

Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIA — Sen. Jim Hargrove has proposed legislation that would allow an owner of a Discover Pass to transfer it between two vehicles and that would clarify what Department of Natural Resources lands the passes are required to access.

Hargrove, a Democrat from Hoquiam who represents the 24th District — which includes the North Olympic Peninsula — introduced Senate Bill 5998 on the last day of the special session, Dec. 14.

The regular session is scheduled to begin Jan. 9.

The annual Discover Pass — which costs $30 if purchased at a manned state park office or kiosk and slightly more if purchased elsewhere — was instituted in July to help replace funding lost from the state general fund, with the state shifting from relying on tax revenue from the state to a user-pay approach to pay for recreation.

Each Discover Pass now covers only one vehicle.

Hargrove’s bill would allow each pass to be transferable between two vehicles.

His proposed legislation also revises the definition of DNR lands that require the pass for public access, expanding the term “recreation site or lands” to include campgrounds, trails, and trailheads.

“I am concerned about the criteria the Department of Natural Resources has developed for determining whether a Discover Pass is required,” said Hargrove, a member of the Natural Resources & Marine Waters Committee.

Hargrove said in a prepared statement that questions about those criteria are causing confusion.

“Must an area meet just one, several or all elements of the primary criteria for the pass to be required?” Hargrove asked.

“Is there consideration given to whether the amount of recreation or agency resources required is significant?”

He said his bill would correct a move by DNR to include significant portions of their lands in areas covered by the Discover Pass requirement.

“The department’s designation of large blocks of their managed lands as a ’recreation area,’ including undeveloped, remote and lightly recreated portions, is an overbroad reading of that term,” Hargrove said.

Sales of the Discover Pass have raised more than $5 million since it became a requirement to visit state recreational areas on July 1.

Most of the revenue from the pass — 84 percent — is earmarked for State Parks, while DNR and Fish & Wildlife are each to get 8 percent, according to Sue Trettevik, DNR’s Olympic region manager.

The state Legislature cut the State Parks budget by $10 million for the 2011 fiscal year, while DNR and Fish & Wildlife’s budgets each lost about $1 million, according to state documents.

Hargrove said that while that money is critical for keeping state parks open and for the upkeep of recreational land, DNR should review its criteria for determining which areas are considered recreational, to ensure that lands are not wrongly included and to eliminate confusion.

Exemptions from the pass, and other information about it, is at www.discoverpass.wa.gov.

Last modified: December 22. 2011 5:52PM
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