News Release 11-043
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
1111 Israel Road S.W., P.O. Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650, (360) 902-8500
Don Hoch, Director
Virginia Painter (360) 902-8562
Sandy Mealing (360) 902-8559
Wash. Telecommunications Relay Service:
State Parks Commission will review fees, budget and tree risk issues at next regular meeting in Wenatchee
Aug. 3, 2011 –
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will consider changes in its fee-setting policies on its annual fee review at its regular meeting in East Wenatchee next week.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, in the Washington State Parks Eastern Region Office, 270 Ninth St. N.E., Suite 200, East Wenatchee. A full Commission meeting agenda is available online at www.parks.wa.gov/agency/commissionmeetings/. Time for public comment is provided at all regular meetings, which are scheduled six times a year at pre-determined locations around the state.
The national and state economic crises have led to changes in the agency’s operating budget so that it is almost wholly reliant now on user fees instead of general fund tax dollars. The agency now depends upon earning revenue from the new Discover Pass (www.discoverpass.wa.gov) as well as donations and existing fees for services to cover the costs of operations and keep parks open. This change in funding base prompts a Commission look at principles guiding fee setting and to consider the agency’s ability to adjust rates up and down in balance with market fluctuations and agency needs.
Setting of fees and rates should consider direct and indirect costs to provide the service, as well as visitor-use trends, market rates and inflation, seasonality, exclusivity, collection costs, industry practices and whether taxes are included or added, as well as other factors considered by the director.
In the same agenda item, the Commission also will consider a package of select revised fees and rates to align with the Discover Pass and consider moving towards a Fair Market Value approach over time. Proposed revisions to fees include an automatic annual increase to keep pace with costs and specific rate changes in 2012 for such things as group day use, special permits, roofed accommodations, moorage and rentable day-use facilities.
Also on the agenda is an item asking the Commission to consider changes to the agency’s tree risk management policies, including establishment of a procedure to address tree risk in parks where reducing risk to acceptable levels will significantly disrupt public use. The policy under consideration would establish public safety as the highest priority in making tree risk decisions, direct the establishment of an agency tree-risk committee to guide a system-wide assessment, require consideration of stakeholder input when devising treatment plans, and dedicate proceeds from the sale of cut trees to forest restoration and other natural resource stewardship activities.
Park tree assessments that started in 2008 began to reveal isolated pockets of fungus-related root and trunk decay in several parks, particularly in Western Washington. While of concern, it was not until a standing, live tree with no visible defects failed and fell over at Lake Wenatchee State Park in 2010 that the risk associated with root and trunk decay and the expertise necessary to reliably identify trees with the condition was fully realized. The ensuing effort to abate tree risk at Lake Wenatchee State Park involved closing several camping loops and removing more than 1,000 trees. Subsequently, root rot was discovered in several Western Washington parks, and treatment plans to reduce risk are being implemented.
The Commission also will consider delegating to the director authorization to approve forest health and tree risk-related timber sales in six parks. Any revenues from such sales would be used first to restore forests in affected parks and thereafter for natural resource stewardship and educational purposes.
In other business, the Commission will consider:
• Changing residency requirements for senior citizen, disability and disabled veterans pass applicants from 12 months to 3 months and allowing additional documents to be used to provide proof of residency, through a revision of Washington Administrative Code (WAC). Information on State Parks pass programs is available at www.parks.wa.gov/passes/.
• Allowing small-scale beach prospecting and placer mining in the Seashore Conservation Area
through a WAC revision.
• Find that 38 acres of parkland at Curlew Lake State Park cannot advantageously be used for park purposes and authorize sale to Ferry County for market value of $2,200 per acre for improvements to the county’s airport. The County in turn would grant State Parks a perpetual easement for public access to the park from any county-owned property south of the park.
• Consider request legislation for the 2012 session
• Authorize 2012 supplemental operations and capital budgets
• Approve two perpetual easements near Spokane: One at Riverside State Park to the City of Spokane to place a sewer main along a portion of Aubrey L. White Way; and another at Centennial Trail to the City of Spokane Valley for a wastewater treatment use.
The Commission also will hear reports on the 2009-11 Capital Program, an annual report on Kukutali Preserve and a status report on Copalis Airport.
Commission work session: A Commission work session is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. in the same location, preceding the regular meeting. Work sessions are open to the public, however no public testimony will be heard and no formal action taken. Work session topics to be discussed include Discover Pass, agency budget, Bridgeport State Park, proposed lower Green River property transfer, fee policy, transformation strategy and efficiency task force and forest health update.
A Commission governance workshop will take place from noon to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, also at the Eastern Region Office. No formal action is taken in workshops.