December 22, 2009
Goldmark works to improve recreation opportunities on DNR-managed lands
DNR advances recommendations from Sustainable Recreation Work Group
OLYMPIA-Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark today announced agency-requested legislation aimed at improving funding for recreation on trust lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The bill requests authorization for DNR to charge recreation access fees in certain situations, explores a multi-agency access pass, creates a concessionaire pilot program, and revises DNR's recreational immunity.
The bill is a direct result of consensus recommendations made by the Sustainable Recreation Work Group in a report submitted to the Washington State Legislature. Bill sponsors are Sen. Ken Jacobsen (D-Seattle) and Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen), both of whom represented the legislature on the Work Group, as did Rep. Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake). Rep. Warnick is also one of the bill's co-sponsors.
"I want to thank the members of the Sustainable Recreation Work Group for their diligent efforts. These recommendations will improve recreation opportunities in our state," said Goldmark. "This bill will allow DNR to be responsive to the public and the growing recreation demands on our state's trust lands."
The Work Group's Final Report to the Legislature is the culmination of a year and a half of work and offers a total of 11 recommendations that address funding and improving access to recreation on DNR-managed trust lands, while assuring that resources are sustainably managed. In addition, the report proposes two recommendations directly to DNR concerning recreational access.
"Given the current economic climate and the budget challenges facing the state, this bill will focus on recommendations that can be realistically carried out in the near term," Goldmark said. "I know that the citizens of this state are passionate about the outdoors. I am committed to advancing additional recreation-related issues in future legislative sessions."
The bill reflects the following Work Group recommendations:
· Access fee. Authorizes DNR to charge for using specific recreation sites and for hosting or attending special events on DNR-managed trust lands. Currently, DNR does not have the authority to charge fees.
· Multi-agency access pass. DNR, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Washington State Parks would explore development of a single pass allowing access to all lands managed by any of the three agencies.
· Concessionaire pilot program. Directs DNR to initiate a pilot project to determine the feasibility of contracting with concessionaires to provide services at DNR's recreation sites. One pilot project will be located in eastern Washington and one in the western part of the state.
· Recreational immunity. The bill would align DNR's immunity from recreation-related lawsuits with Washington State Parks and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"It's exciting to see such a broad coalition of support behind this bill and to see our work reflected in potential action at the legislative level," said Elizabeth Lunney, Work Group member and executive director of the Washington Trails Association.
Work Group membership included a diverse group of people, with representatives and leaders from both motorized and non-motorized recreational uses. Historically, many of these interests have been at odds with one another as users compete for limited places to recreate on state lands.
"Our versatile group quickly found common ground and recognized that we would need to work together if we were going to develop realistic recommendations to improve recreational opportunities for everyone on lands managed by DNR," said Arlene Brooks, Work Group member and executive director of the Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association.
"We had to grapple with the fact that our state's growing population is putting extra pressure on state lands, especially as less and less private land is available for public access," said Jon Kennedy, Work Group member and executive director of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. "Our recommendations reflect a deep commitment to the ongoing health of and access to these state lands."
"I am so glad that Commissioner Goldmark is leading the charge to ensure that funding and opportunities for science-based recreation on state lands will be available for future generations-and this bill should do it." said Darrell Wallace, incoming president of the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington.
Both versions of the bill can be download from the Washington State Legislature's website.
House Bill 2480: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2480&year=2009
Senate Bill 2237: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=6237&year=2009
Download the Sustainable Recreation Work Group Final Report to the Washington State Legislature from www.dnr.wa.gov
. (Follow the link to the "Sustainable Recreation Work Group.")
About the Sustainable Recreation Work Group
The Sustainable Recreation Work Group is the result of legislation in 2008 to establish policy recommendations and a collaborative vision to ensure outdoor recreation is safe, enjoyable, accessible, environmentally responsible, and sustainably funded now and into the future.
The legislature directed the work group to examine relevant existing laws and rules and recommend policy changes and funding alternatives for consideration by the 2010 legislative session.
For more information about the Sustainable Recreation Work Group and a list of members, visit www.dnr.wa.gov/RecreationEducation/...ing/Pages/amp_rec_sustainable_recreation.aspx
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