Letter: State park donation

April 14, 2014 

A few years ago, our state legislators decided they would no longer fully fund state parks from the general budget. To that effect, state taxes do not directly support our priceless parks.

While a recent letter suggested that the Department of Licensing was attempting to dupe car owners into paying a $5 donation to the park system, remember that it was our legislators who saw fit to offer this inadequate funding source via the DOL. One can clearly opt out of the small donation. I am glad to opt in. I hope all our citizens of adequate means do the same.

Lawmakers also established the day use fee and annual pass to fund state parks. None of these fees are excessive, nor do they cover the costs of the parks.

The State Parks Commission reported to the Legislature the past several years that our parks cannot be sustained with the current funding system.

I have volunteered as a camp host at Steamboat Rock State Park since 2010. I have seen the park lose two of three full-time rangers after the Legislature's decision to de-fund parks. Only one permanent ranger now runs this park with seasonal ranger help in the summer.

Our state parks are some of the best places to recreate and show off our state's history and beauty. We are risking their degradation from neglected maintenance.

MART SMITH, Kennewick

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