LONG BEACH — Representatives from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission recently met with community leaders and businesses in Pacific and Grays Harbor counties to discuss the agency’s budget and its potential effects on the Seashore Conservation Area (SCA), including the Long Beach Peninsula. As a result, it has been decided that the state will not charge for beach parking and driving.

The State Parks Commission is working to address a proposed 70 percent reduction to the agency’s budget in the 2011-13 biennium. Additionally, the agency is expecting to be completely self-funded by the 2013-15 biennium. As it stands now, Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco is one of only 10 out of more than 100 parks statewide that produces sufficient revenue to pay for itself.

One method gaining ground to fund the agency’s operations is a user-pay system, whereby those who use the parks and other state recreation lands pay for them by purchasing a $30 annual access permit (or a $10 daily permit).

“We heard what the community said, and we want to come up with a plan that will work best for everyone,” said State Parks Director Don Hoch. “We have recommended to the Legislature that we not require permits at beach accesses or beach driving.”

Visitors who park in formalized parking areas to gain access to ocean beaches would be required to have the access permit.

State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Islands, has introduced Senate Bill 5622, creating a joint recreation access permit for parks and other state recreation lands managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources. Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, has introduced a companion bill, HB 1796, in the House. The proposed “Discover Pass” would be available for people to purchase when renewing vehicle license tabs through the Department of Licensing. Other purchase options also may be available.

The SCA extends from roughly the Columbia River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Nation. It includes approximately 60 miles of coastline, with developed state parks and ocean beach access roads within Pacific and Grays Harbor counties.

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