Opponents of a $30 annual access fee for state lands are pointing to the not-so-distant past in arguing it would raise barriers to access by the poor and fail to raise the officially projected $71 million.
Attendance at state parks dipped by about 18 percent last time the state charged fees to park at them, and some research suggested the poor were deterred by the cost. Parks officials see that 2003-06 drop as modest and see a future decrease as preferable to closing parks. They point out that 41 states charge for entry.
States such as Oregon have done it for decades. People are willing to pay because they know parks don’t receive any of their taxes, Oregon parks spokesman Chris Havel said.
Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed similarly taking Washington’s state parks off the state’s general fund and moving them and other state lands to a “user-pays” philosophy. The idea is drawing support from lawmakers.
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