$40 Access Pass Proposed

Nonhunters and -anglers would be asked to pay much more to get onto the bulk of state lands under a plan WDFW and Department of Natural Resources want legislators to approve in the upcoming session.

So too would Washington sportsmen, but only $5 vs. $40.

Citing past and future state budget cuts, a statement from WDFW says that unless new revenue sources are found, some of the agency’s 900,000 acres and DNR’s 5.6 million acres could be closed.

To combat that, the two departments are asking lawmakers to sign off on a three-pronged plan that would raise just over $7 million annually.

The keystone is the new “Explore Washington” access pass, which would replace the current vehicle-use permit WDFW requires at some of its sites.

“Under the proposal, annual lands access pass would be $40 for general users age 19 and older, or $5 for those purchasing fishing or hunting licenses or a watchable-wildlife package,” says the statement, emailed this afternoon. “Short-term passes would be available at $20 for a three-day pass; $15 for a two-day pass; and $10 for a one-day pass.”

Currently, WDFW charges $14 for an annual permit, though it is free when you buy your hunting and fishing license.

It’s expected that sales would raise $5.5 million a year, which would be split between WDFW and DNR to manage, police and maintain the lands.

The agencies also want legislators to charge $10 more to buy as well as renew vanity plates, which would yield $1.3 million more a year to help out threatened species on WDFW land, and recalculate the amount of gas tax money directed to WDFW, which would yield a quarter million in new funding.

“This budget crisis has taken a toll on WDFW’s ability to care for the 900,000 acres of recreational land and 700 water-access sites the agency manages,” the statement says. “WDFW’s land operation and management budget has been cut by nearly $2 million over the past several years, from $10.8 million to an anticipated $8 million next biennium. As state revenues continue to decline those cuts could grow deeper.”

WDFW says that state lands aren’t just critical for wildlife, but economic engines as well, helping “generate billions of dollars annually for Washington’s economy.”

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2 Responses to “$40 Access Pass Proposed”

  1. ‘Eliminating Steelhead Fishing In Puget Sound’ Rivers « Northwest Sportsman Says:

    […] where the agency conceivably needs sportsman and -woman support for lawmakers to pass license and other fee increases to stabilize its budget as well as again possibly fend off merging WDFW with other […]

  2. Cyber Monday Reads « Northwest Sportsman Says:

    […] on the north side of the Columbia, WDFW and DNR are also looking at a parking pass proposal for access to their millions of acres across […]

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