VANCOUVER — The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission plans to address future budget shortfalls at its regular meeting Thursday, Oct. 25.
In September, the commission asked the state for $18 million for 2013-15. Income from the sale of State Parks’ Discover Pass was $4.7 million short of expectations. State Parks will likely need an additional $9.2 million, a total of $27.2 million in state general fund money, to continue operations into the next budget cycle without further cuts.
In recent years, the legislature determined that the state park system would primarily be funded for fees for service rather than general tax dollars. The change took effect in the 2011-13 budget, which cut state support to 12 percent of the agency budget (the state had once funded 70 percent of the state park budget). The legislature has informed the commission not to expect any general fund money for 2013-15.
In its August 2011 report to the Office of Financial Management, the commission took the position that it is not achievable or desirable for State Parks to be completely self-supporting and that it would request general fund money.
In other business, the Commission will consider endorsing an appropriation request of $90 million from the Washington Wildlife Recreation Program as part of its 2013-15 capital budget. The program is administered through the state Recreation Conservation Office. State Parks’ listed projects for consideration include trail development, property and tideland acquisitions for future development and improvements for such things as picnic shelters and cabins.
Also, the Commission will consider appointing six citizens to two State Parks Winter Recreation advisory boards — one for snowmobile advisory issues and one for non-motorized winter recreation. Nominations are through a public process, and terms will run from Nov. 1 through Sept. 30, 2015. Also to be considered are proposed revisions to the Washington Administrative Code, including allowing overnight camping in approved areas of designated Sno-Parks; allowing operation of electric generators in RVs during the winter season; and campfire restrictions at Crystal Springs and Easton Reload Sno-Parks.