Sustainable funding proposed for state lands
Posting for Arlene.
The following article is out of Land Line News - a communication tool for Washington Fish & Wildlife. The agency is in partnership with Department of Natural Resources seeking ways to find sustainable funding for outdoor recreation; this is in DRAFT FORM ONLY – a proposal from the DNR will be introduced to the legislature in January. Arlene
WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091
LAND LINE NEWS NOTES - November 2010
Sustainable funding proposed for state lands
State lands are crucial to Washington's quality of life-providing habitat for fish and wildlife, and access for recreation activities that generate billions of dollars annually for Washington's economy.
Spending by recreational fishers, hunters, wildlife watchers, boaters, hikers, horseback riders and other users of state lands supports small businesses and creates jobs across Washington, particularly in rural communities.
But the economic engine, conservation benefit, and recreation access offered by state lands all are at risk due to the lack of stable, sustainable funding for land maintenance.
The state budget crisis has left its mark on an array of important state services, including state lands. As state revenues declined during the current recession, state General Fund support to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has been slashed by 33 percent in the current 2009-11 biennium. More cuts are expected in the coming 2011-13 biennium.
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. 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.
"Even before the budget crisis, we faced a backlog of maintenance needs on state lands, including weed control, habitat restoration, fencing, visitor facilities and other infrastructure needs," said WDFW Lands Program Manager Jennifer Quan." We recruit volunteers for some of this work, but we still need to fund equipment, materials and professional staff to coordinate projects."
Unless new funding sources can be found to address critical operation and maintenance needs, some of these recreation lands face closure.
Over 5.6 million acres of state recreation lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) face similar threats. The Sustainable Recreation Work Group, a citizen panel created by the Washington Legislature in 2008, recognized the need for a long-term, dedicated funding source for maintenance of state recreation lands. Based on this panel's recommendations DNR proposed legislation in the 2010 legislative session to have the ability to charge an access fee. The proposed legislation made it through the house but ran out of time in the Senate.
For the 2011 legislative session, the DNR and WDFW are jointly proposing new legislation to create stable, dedicated funding for state recreation lands. The legislative proposal includes several key features:
o An increase in the portion of Washington's gas tax revenues available to DNR, WDFW and Washington State Parks for managing recreation lands for boaters, snowmobilers and off-road vehicle riders. The proposal would calculate the one percent refund on the full 37.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax base, rather than at the current 22 cent-per-gallon rate, beginning in 2013. The gas tax refund change would provide about $250,000 annually in new funds for WDFW lands.
o An "Explore Washington Pass" for access to WDFW and DNR lands. This pass would replace WDFW's current annual vehicle-use permit. 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. 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. The passes would be sold through WDFW's existing WILD recreational licensing system. Revenue from the new pass, estimated at $5.5 million annually, would be split between WDFW and DNR for land management capital, operational, maintenance and enforcement needs.
o A $10 increase in the cost of personalized license plates (raising the cost of new plates from $42 to $52, and renewals from $32 to $42 annually). The change would generate an estimated $1.3 million in additional revenue each biennium, dedicated to habitat work for threatened and endangered species on WDFW lands.
o Provisions that would allow WDFW and DNR to jointly enforce land use regulations, and would allow the agencies to seek restitution from those who damage state lands.
Comments on this legislative proposal can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org . Updates on the funding proposal will be available through future Landline news notes and on WDFW's website.
Detailed information about recreational opportunities on WDFW Wildlife Areas can be found at Wildlife Areas | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife . Water access sites (boat launch) information can be found at Water Access Sites | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife .
Jim, I posted this on the Peak Putter's site, and took the liberty of sending it to our 8th District delegation. Those worthies would be Jerome Delvin, Brad Klippert, and Larry Haler for those on that side of the hill who are able to get up close and personal in Olympia.
Below are comments from Olympia regarding this proposed legislation. Jeri is Senator Delvin's chief aid. This is a recap of an e-mail string i have going with Jeri and the Senator.
First from Natural Resoucres Committee staff:
The newsletter piece at the bottom refers to a proposal DFW and DNR are putting together to create an “explore Washington pass” required for access to DFW and DNR lands. The funds would help pay for state land management costs.
I think this is what Dave’s emails are focused on, and it sounds like he does not have a firm position quite yet.
I have not seen a draft bill, but can get you more specifics about the proposal if you are interested.
Staff Coordinator & Counsel
Senate Natural Resources, Ocean & Recreation Committee
Jeri May's response to me:
With boss out of town, I needed to explore with our Natural Resource Policy staffer. Like boss said, let us know if you learn more….thanks.
My comment on the $40 fee to Jeri:
Jeri, as of now, my major issue is that $40 fee. I'm not too happy with that amount PER PERSON!! A vehicle sticker would be a bit more user friendly I think, even though it would be on top of regular tags. I have two rigs that would need a permit. Just don't think a $40 a head fee is going to make the user groups happy, be they gas or muscle powered!
Last comments from Jeri:
We’ve had several others who also feel the fee should be per vehicle or family and not per person. The only thing to do at this point without knowing what the bill will look like when introduced or should it get out of committee is to amend it per your suggestion. There will be talks all over the place about the fees this session.
If I understand, currently you have to have a $12 vehicle use sticker to use DFW lands. And I “think” you don’t have to pay anything to use DNR lands. So, while charging the $40 per vehicle would raise less money than charging per person, it would still be more than the agencies get under the current system.
This year is going to be all about raising revenue, but how?
I know you will follow this issue more closely probably than what we can monitor at this point. So other than an amendment (depending) talk with your friends – wait and see the bill, and then we might be able to dissect it.
I'm happy to pay a $40 per family fee. Per vehicle doesn't work either. I have 3 vehicles that I take on DNR and DFW lands every year. If they want to charge me $40 per vehicle, I'll go to Oregon.
The DFW fee is a tag that you can easily transfer from one rig to the next, but would they give my Excursion a ticket in a parking area if the sticker was on my Jeep up on the hill? What are the rules? How does the bill read? How and who will enforce it on DNR lands? I get that it would be enforced by Game Warden type LEOs on DFW land, but is the Sheriff going to do it at Ahtanum?
IF it is a per family charge,
IF the money is protected by law,
IF there is an enforcement plan in place
IF a certain percentage of the $$ is earmarked for ORV activities
I'm all for it. It would help our cause and discourage some of the outlaw types from venturing onto the wrong dirt.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't something like the sledders have for the sno-parks work? Don't they get a sticker for their tow rig and their sled for one registration.
If the conditions that Jim laid out were met, **** I wouldn’t only not mind paying $40, I’d want to. Maybe something like $40 bucks covers the first 2 or 3 rigs then additional stickers would be $5 each. My hunting hang tag has room for three license plate numbers so it can be moved between three rigs and I’d have to pay for an additional one. (Still doesn’t handle the tow pig problem.)
MEETING via CONFERENCE CALL*
WHEN: Friday, November 19, 2010 -- 8:30 a.m.
A. PROPOSED LAND TRANSACTION – DECISION: The Commission will consider approval of a land transaction postponed from the August 6-7, 2010, Commission meeting: Acquisition of approximately 2,699 acres in Okanogan County (Cutchie property). The Commission held a public hearing on the proposal during its August 6-7, 2010, meeting in Olympia.
B. GENERAL DISCUSSION: Commissioners and Department staff will discuss recent activities and items of interest, including preliminary agenda items for the December 2- 4, 2010, Commission meeting in Olympia.
This meeting will take place via telephone conference call. The public may listen to the discussion via speakerphone by coming to the Commission Office, located at the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources Building, 5th floor, 1111 Washington Street SE, Olympia. No public input will be accepted during the call.
# # #
Meeting agendas and updates are posted for viewing electronically on our website at: www.wdfw.wa.gov/commission. All Commission meetings, including conference calls, are recorded and open to the public. Audio recordings are generally posted on the Internet at the above website address the week following each meeting. Contact the Commission Office for additional information by phone at (360) 902-2267, or via email to email@example.com
Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission
Location: 1111 Washington St South, Olympia
Mail: 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501
Phone: (360) 902-2267
IF the monies raised through a program such as this were DEFINITELY earmarked for DNR, and protected by law, I would have no issue paying for a yearly pass---not too keen on the amt, maybe if it were closer to 10$ (maybe $20 IF the money is protected) per head, per yr....Their stats on proposed monies are likely based off current numbers of people visiting DNR land each yr....I bet $$$$ that if the $40 fee is passed, those numbers would drop drastically!!!!
Sure glad to see everyone all over this subject. I'm sure there's contact being made all over, but those doing it are too bashfull to post their ideas and thoughts, huh?
And another bad idea:
The latest recreation fee proposal comes from Senator Ranker. It would be an annual pass at $40 per vehicle. This is addition to any other user fees such as ORV permits. 80 percent of the revenue would go to State Parks, the DNR and WDFW would each get 10 percent.
If the revenue projections are correct and I doubt that they are, it breaks down to $230 per acre of Parks managed land and only about $1 per acre for the land that the DNR manages. While the mission and recreational goals of the two agencies are substantially different, the funding is still disproportionately unfair to the fee paying citizens that recreate on DNR managed public land.
If you think that it’s unfair, let Senator Ranker know.
User Fees Proposed To Keep Public Land Open -
Please refer to: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...eparks26m.html (January 26th) This link should take you to the Seattle Times news article regarding "Could new vehicle fees keep state parks open"?
There is a piece of legislation being drafted by Senator Ranker that not only addresses State Parks and Recreation issues but Washington Fish & Wildlife and Department of Natural Resources public lands - a direction to put three agencies under one umbrella when it comes to outdoor recreation.
The bill addresses the moneys received in the account must be distributed to the agencies in the following manner: 8% to the Department of Fish & Wildlife; 8% to the Department of Natural Resources; and 84% to Washington State Parks and Recreation.
The annual pass is proposed at $40.00 per vehicle, or $30.00 if acquired with an initial or renewal of vehicle registration; and can be used on all three agency sites.
A complimentary annual pass will be provided to a volunteer who performed forty (40) hours of service on an agency sanctioned volunteer project in a year; recorded hours will be through a voucher system; volunteer work performed can be in combination with any or on all three agency's.
I would like to open this topic up for discussion; your comments - concerns and suggestions are valuable to the four wheel drive community. Please stay on topic and if you have questions - please post them -I will answer them as soon as I can.
Arlene Brooks, WA State Director
This was discussed at the Reiter focus group meeting this evening. The 84%-8%-8% is based on the requested budget from the 3 agencies. Parks requires a much larger budget to make ends meet......I think the breakdown needs to be researched and needs to be based on the areas where the users recreate who bought the passes...The fee is based on a goal of 71 million dollars for all 3 agencies to make budget. What happens to the monies past the 71 mill hasen't been addressed. We need to be sure this money won't get taken for the general fund.....02c:lurker:
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