OLYMPIA – At its regular meeting next week, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will consider a number of items tied to development of the 2011-13 budget, including camping fee changes, transfer of two state parks to the Bainbridge Island local park system and requested budget reduction ideas.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 19, in the Environmental Learning Center at Millersylvania State Park, 12245 Tilley Road S., Olympia. A full Commission meeting agenda is available online atwww.parks.wa.gov/agency/commissionmeetings/. Time for public comment is provided at all regular meetings, which are held several times a year at pre-determined locations around the state.
The Legislature and Governor have recommended that the Commission find ways to mitigate reductions in the State Parks budget by raising fees where appropriate. The fee recommendations to be considered next week raise some fees and maintain others. Fees proposed in the agenda item are based on fair market value to avoid suppressing local market prices and creating undue price competition. The proposal suggests no changes to camping in the off-peak season of mid-September to mid-May, which makes up about one-quarter of camping nights at reservation parks. Campsites designated as premium sites would have higher fees but would be discounted to non-premium prices in off-season.
The price to camp in all 334 primitive campsites would remain $12 year-round. All prices include state and local taxes. Peak-season camping rates as outlined in the proposal would increase as follows:
• A $1 increase for standard (tent) sites, to $22 for non-premium and $25 for premium sites.
• A $2 increase for partial utility sites (sites with electric and water service), to $29 for non-premium and $34 for premium sites.
• A $3 increase for full utility sites (sites with electric, water and sewer service), to $31 for non-premium and $36 for premium sites.
The peak-season plan would take effect on Jan. 1 on reservations for camping in mid-May 2011 and beyond. New prices would generate up to $1 million of additional net revenue a biennium on reservation camping and $100,000 a biennium on first-come, first-served camping.
The fee proposal also includes raising $200,000 a biennium with a new non-resident fee on each reservation for camping, yurts, cabins, marina slips and other reserved services. The new fee would compensate State Parks for a portion of park operations costs not covered by user fees. Residents currently subsidize this cost through sales tax and other taxes. Most other states distribute this cost to non-residents through day-use fees, which are prohibited in Washington.
In another budget-related item, the Commission will consider authorizing the transfer of Fort Ward and Fay Bainbridge state parks to the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District. State Parks staff began discussing the potential transfer of these parks in early 2009, when state budget reductions moved the Commission to consider transfers of certain parks to other willing and able government entities. Park transfers are conditional upon the receiving entity keeping them open to the public. Transferring the two parks would result in a potential savings of $147,000 for State Parks.
The Commission also will consider adopting a strategy for further possible budget reductions in the 2011-13 budget.
In other business, the Commission will consider adopting or approving:
• Classification and Management Plans (CAMP) for Steamboat Rock, Olallie and Klickitat Trail state parks, setting park boundaries and defining appropriate public uses.
• A schedule for the completion of a Successor Plan to the Centennial 2013 Plan. The Centennial 2013 Plan, created in 2003, has guided the park system through several years of improvements in preparation for the State Park system’s 100th birthday and a second century.
• An interpretive policy to guide the future of State Parks interpretation.
• Placement of a memorial bench overlooking Deep Lake at Millersylvania State Park to honor the late Ranger John Brentlinger, who managed youth programs at State Parks for many years.
• Review and revisions of Washington Administrative Code for housekeeping and clarification.
• Sale of excess timber as the result of tree failure at Lake Wenatchee State Park.
• Amending Cultural Resource Management Policy to include management of collections.
• A perpetual easement for a property owner at Nisqually State Park.
Reports will include a capital program update; potential transfer of Brooks Memorial State Park to Central Klickitat Conservation District; and results of a small-scale mineral prospecting pilot program.
At his final Commission meeting, retiring State Parks Director Rex Derr will report accomplishments on the 2010 Director’s Performance Agreement with the Commission. Derr will retire Nov. 30, after a lifelong parks and recreation career that includes 33 years with Washington State Parks and eight years as director.
Commission work session: A Commission work session is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, in the Environmental Hearings Office meeting room on the third floor of State Parks Headquarters, 1111 Israel Road S.W., Olympia. The session is open to the public, however, no public testimony will be heard and no formal action taken. Discussion topics include the Index wall; 2011-13 budget; Columbia Plateau Trail gravel extraction opportunity; leases and concessions summary; land sales on properties not consistent with the Centennial 2013 vision; enlisting partners at Miller Peninsula; Pearrygin Lake update; Seashore Conservation area ownership status; Auburn game farm; Mountains to Sound Greenway heritage presentation; Green River Gorge; interpretive and cultural resource policy; timber sales at Lake Wenatchee State Park; Deep Lake update; volunteer fingerprinting; veteran program; status of 2011 requested legislation; beach mining and wind-powered vehicles; Centennial successor plan; status of Foundation projects.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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