Saturday, July 31, 2010

Deception Pass & the Washington State Parks

You are looking at North Beach at Deception Pass State Park from a vantage point on the trail that leads from Deception Pass Bridge down to the beach.

Speaking of Deception Pass Bridge, today at Deception Pass State Park the 75th Anniversary of the opening of the bridge is taking place.

Deception Pass State Park, with more than 2 million visitors a year, is the most popular state park in Washington's state park inventory of around 125 parks.

The State of Washington has had some budget problems, like most states have. A few years ago the state started charging a fee for entering the state parks. The Washington State Parks had always been free to enter for day use. with the principle being that they are the people's parks, and should be able to be used by everyone. The public balked at the entry fees and so they were removed.

I remember being surprised by the new day use entry fee in 2004 when I returned to Washington and visited Deception Pass State Park.

I went to do my regular hike starting at Rosario. That's when I saw that you had to now pay to park. I parked, without paying and went on my hike. After the hike I was really surprised to see the same type parking fee at the parking lot on the Whidbey Island side of the Deception Pass Bridge. Again, I parked and did not pay. When I lived in the area I frequently parked in that parking lot to hike up Goose Rock.

Facing budget woes in March of 2009 the state announced the possible closure of up to 40 of the state parks, including, to my shock, Larrabee State Park on Chuckanut Drive.

Then the Washington State Legislature got clever and passed a couple bills the result of which added an "opt out" feature to car and truck registration renewals. Meaning that when you renew you can "opt out" of the $5 state park donation.

Washington's state parks annually have over 40 million visitors.

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