Washington parks seek funding certainty

first_imgVancouver residents, from left, Randy Dunning, Brandon Nuzum and Andres Soto-Peres fish at Battle Ground Lake State Park. As revenues continue to fall short of projections, state parks leaders are sending a message to Washington lawmakers: We can’t do it alone.The Washington State Parks department plans to seek $27 million in general fund money for the upcoming 2013-15 biennium. Parks officials say that amount would keep afloat an agency battered by budget cuts in recent years. It would also add stability to a department betting big on Discover Pass user fees, which haven’t yet settled into a predictable revenue stream.That $27 million is a request, not a guarantee. Legislators have previously said state parks may get no general fund money in 2013-15. But that’s simply not an option if state parks are to remain a viable program, according to a department report released earlier this year. The state Parks and Recreation Commission reiterated that stance during a meeting in Vancouver last week.“We’re really at a crossroads,” said state parks spokeswoman Virginia Painter.The Washington State Parks department has grappled with major cutbacks in recent years, seeing its state support erode from $98 million in 2007-09 to just more than $21 million in the current biennium. The department’s self-generated revenue has climbed significantly, but not enough to avoid lopping a third of its permanent full-time positions off the payroll since 2008.The cuts have been felt at a local level. A total year-round staff of just three now runs Clark County’s two state parks — Paradise Point, near La Center, and Battle Ground Lake. Other employees have been downsized to seasonal positions, reshuffled to other places or let go.last_img

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