Washington State Parks rangers and managers of other state lands are gearing up for the debut of the Discover Pass, which will be required for motor vehicle access to most state lands starting in July.

State officials aren’t expecting a jubilant reception for the new permit created by the Washington Legislature.

The pass will be required for many mushroomers, berry pickers, firewood cutters, geocachers and others not familiar with paying to recreate on state lands.

Online responses to state agency websites have been largely negative.

“We’ll be making a special effort to explain the pass,” said Chris Guidotti, Riverside State Park manager in Spokane. “Without it we’d be closing parks.”

With some exceptions, the $30 annual pass ($10 daily) will be required on all street-legal vehicles, including motorcycles, in state parks as well as on lands managed by the departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife.
Staff from the three agencies have been meeting since April to work out details of the program.

The law was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire on May 12 to help plow through the state budget crisis without closing parks or other state-land facilities, such as fishing access sites and DNR campgrounds.

The law takes effect Friday, but state officials say they won’t begin enforcing the pass requirement until July 5, after the Independence Day holiday.

The passes can be purchased online or wherever Washington hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Spokane County alone has 42 hunting and fishing license dealers ranging from sporting goods shops to Wal-Mart.

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