Final Report to the Washington State Legislature

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					 Sustainable Recreation Work Group

Final Report to the
Washington State
Legislature




December 2009
Acknowledgments
The following served as members of the Sustainable Recreation Work Group:
Co-chairs:
  Rep. Brian Blake, D-19th Legislative District
  Rep. Judy Warnick, R-13th Legislative District
Representing recreation uses:
  Tom Allen, Northwest Paragliding Club
  Delia Alred, Washington State Snowmobile Association
  Arlene Brooks, Washington Executive Director, Pacific Northwest Four
  Wheel Drive Association
  Jeff Chapman, Director, Buckhorn Range Chapter, Backcountry
  Horsemen of Washington, Inc.
  Rick Dahl, Washington Off Highway Vehicle Alliance
  Gerald Hodge, Washington Water Trails Association | Washington Boaters
  Alliance
  Jon Kennedy, Executive Director, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance
  (EMBA)
  Elizabeth Lunney, Executive Director, Washington Trails Association
  Tom Perry, Hunters Heritage Council
  Mike Racine, Washington SCUBA Alliance
Representing business, landowners, leaseholders:
  Patti Case, Public/Regulatory Affairs Manager, Green Diamond Resource
  Company
  Will Chin, Outreach and Events Administrator, REI, Inc.
  Dave Lipinski, Washington State Motorcycle Dealers Association
  West Mathison, President, Stemilt Growers, Inc.
Representing conservation organizations:
  Bill Chapman, President, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust
  Michelle Connor, Senior Vice President, Cascade Land Conservancy
  Lindell Haggin, Spokane Audubon Society
Local, state, tribal, and federal representatives:
  Greg Abrahamson, Chair, Spokane Tribe of Indians
  Kaleen Cottingham, Director, Recreation and Conservation Office
  Paul Dahmer, Wildlife Area Section Manager, Washington Department of
  Fish and Wildlife
  Senator Ken Jacobsen, D-46th Legislative District
  Dale Hom, Forest Supervisor, US Forest Service, Olympic National Forest
  Mary Hunt, Commissioner, Douglas County
  Bill Koss, Manager, Planning and Research, Washington State Parks and
  Recreation Commission
  John Mankowski, Senior Policy Advisor, Governor’s Office
Acknowledgments, continued

Alternates:
  Jim Eychaner, Policy and Planning Specialist, Recreation and Conservation Office
  Doug Schindler, Deputy Director, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust
  Dan Stonington, Policy Director, Cascade Land Conservancy
Former members:
  Mike Blankenship, Commissioner, Ferry County
  James Donaldson (former Chair), owner, Donaldson Physical Therapy
  John Lang, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance
  Pedro Navarrete, student, Central Washington University
  Jennifer Quan, Manager, Lands Division, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife


Support Staff to the Sustainable Recreation Work Group
    Craig Partridge, Facilitator, Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
    Margaret Pilaro Barrette, DNR
    Robert Dengel, DNR
    Toni Droscher, DNR
    Jana Greer, DNR
    Princess Jackson-Smith, DNR
    Mark Mauren, DNR
    Steve Saunders, DNR
    Kristin Swenddal, DNR

    Jim Eychaner, Recreation and Conservation Office
    Michael Kern, Triangle Associates




Cover photos:
Top left: Mountain biker riding in Capitol Forest. Photo courtesy of Friends of Capitol Forest
Top right: Snowmobilers gather at Rattlesnake Snow-Park. Photo: DNR/Donn Rasmusson
Middle right: Hikers take in the view from Oyster Dome on Blanchard Mountain. Photo: DNR/Jim Cahill
Lower right: ATV rider in Ahtanum State Forest. Photo: DNR/Toni Droscher
Lower middle: Great Gravel Pack-in, Capitol Forest. Photo: DNR/Christine Redmond
Lower right: Four-wheelers on Whites Ridge in Ahtanum State Forest. Photo: Clay Graham
Middle: Kayakers raft up near Cypress Island. Photo: DNR/Jason Goldstein
Sustainable Recreation Work Group
Final Report
to the Washington State Legislature
December 2009




This report was produced by staff from the Department of Natural Resources in
cooperation with the Sustainable Recreation Work Group.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources
Recreation Program
PO Box 47000
1111 Washington Street SE
Olympia, WA 98504-7000
www.dnr.wa.gov

Copies of this report may be obtained by calling 360-902-1600 or sending an
e-mail request to recreation@dnr.wa.gov.

Need an alternative format of this report? Please call TTY 360-902-1125.
December 16, 2009



The Honorable Peter Goldmark
Commissioner of Public Lands
Washington State Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 47001
Olympia, WA 98504-7001

Dear Commissioner Goldmark:

As co-chairs of the Sustainable Recreation Work Group, created as directed by SHB2472 of
2008, we are pleased to present the Work Group’s final report and recommendations. The
legislation provides that you will submit the Work Group’s legislative recommendations to the
legislature.

We both appreciate the opportunity to serve with this diverse Work Group. We were impressed
with the members’ knowledge, dedication, and perseverance, and by their commitment to
working collaboratively across their diverse interests toward consensus recommendations.

As the legislature takes up the Work Group’s recommendations in the 2010 and future sessions,
we look forward to working with you and the groups and interests represented in the Work Group
to pursue the goal of a sustainable recreation program on lands managed by the Department of
Natural Resources, providing a wide range of benefits to recreationists into the future.

Thanks again for the opportunity to serve as a co-chairs of this Work Group.


Sincerely,



Brian Blake,
Representative, 19th Legislative District




Judy Warnick,
Representative, 13th Legislative District




Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   i
ii   Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
Preface
I n 2008, the Washington State Legislature established the Sustainable
  Recreation Work Group (Work Group) to address issues related to
providing recreation opportunities on lands managed by the Washington
State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The legislation directed
the Work Group to examine current laws and policies regarding recreation,
make recommendations on policy changes, and identify possible sources for
sustainable funding to support outdoor recreation on DNR-managed lands.

Work Group membership included representatives from state and federal
recreation-related agencies, an elected county official, members of the
business and environmental communities, and three members of the state
legislature. The majority of the Work Group membership comprised
representatives from a diverse range of recreation uses. The challenge for
the Work Group was to make recommendations to address the shrinking
recreation opportunities on state lands at the same time that the demand for
public access is increasing.

Work Group members knew that to arrive at the most effective solutions
that would benefit all recreation uses and the landscapes, they would need
to work together. As the bleak economic picture unfolded over the past
year, which further eroded DNR’s recreation budget,
Work Group members were even more motivated to            Work Group members knew
build consensus and stay engaged in the process of
developing their recommendations.                         that to arrive at the most
                                                                 effective solutions that benefit all
Throughout the Work Group’s meetings and                         recreation uses, they would need
deliberations, members explored a number of issues
related to recreation. They looked at how other
                                                                 to work together.
states fund recreation and provide adequate access to
public lands (See Appendix: Follow Up Multi-state
Funding Survey). They learned about DNR’s land management obligations
and how recreation fits in with those obligations. And, they also asked for
feedback from the public through a series of online surveys and public
workshops and meetings.

Meetings and online forums were characterized by honest, constructive
exchanges of ideas. Members of the Work Group who represented different
recreation uses kept their constituents informed about the progress and
direction of the Work Group. Members appreciated the opportunity to
work on common issues with other representatives from the recreating
community.

In general, Work Group members support DNR’s mission of providing
a distinctive type of semi-primitive to primitive recreation experience
with trail-based and dispersed opportunities. Members strongly urge the

Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   iii
legislature to provide the appropriate funding to support the broad benefits
of recreation use on state lands. The Work Group also acknowledges
the current economic situation and the bearing it will have on how the
legislature considers the recommendations, particularly during this
upcoming short session.

As the Work Group members wrapped up their yearlong process to
develop these recommendations, many expressed the desire to continue to
communicate and coordinate efforts during the 2010 Legislative Session
and beyond. Their goal is to help build a foundation and sustain the
momentum so that these recommendations can also be considered in future
legislative sessions.




iv   Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
Sustainable Recreation Work Group citizen members




Tom Allen,                                                       Lindell Haggin,
Northwest Paragliding Club                                       Spokane Audubon Society




Delia Alred,                                                     Dale Hom,
Washington State Snowmobile Association                          U.S. Forest Service




Arlene Brooks,                                                   Mary Hunt, Commissioner
Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive                               Douglas County
Association




Patti Case,                                                      Jon Kennedy,
Green Diamond Resource Company                                   Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance




Bill Chapman,                                                    Dave Lipinski,
Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust                                Washington State Motorcycle Dealers
                                                                 Association




Jeff Chapman,                                                    Elizabeth Lunney,
Backcountry Horsemen of Washington                               Washington Trails Association




Will Chin,                                                       West Mathison,
REI                                                              Stemilt Growers, Inc.




Michelle Connor,                                                 Tom Perry,
Cascade Land Conservancy                                         Hunters Heritage Council




Rick Dahl,
Washington Off Highway Vehicle Alliance


Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009     v
Table of Contents


Letter From Co-chairs .................................................................................................. i

Preface.........................................................................................................................iii

Signature Page ........................................................................................................... iv

Introduction..................................................................................................................1

Sustainable Recreation Work Group Formation ...................................................... 3
   Charter .....................................................................................................................3
   Vision .......................................................................................................................4

Work Plan and Background ....................................................................................... 4

Major Milestones ......................................................................................................... 5

Policy Issues ...............................................................................................................5

Public Involvement ..................................................................................................... 7

Sustainable Recreation Work Group’s Recommendations..................................... 9
  Recommendations to the Washington State Legislature ......................................... 9
  Recommendations to the Washington State Department
  of Natural Resources ............................................................................................. 16
  Options considered but not recommended............................................................ 17

Conclusion.................................................................................................................19


Documents supporting this report are located in the“Appendix to the Sustainable Recreation Work Group
Final Report to the Washington State Legislature.” To save paper and resources, DNR posted the Appendix
on its website at www.dnr.wa.gov. Follow the link to the “Sustainable Recreation Work Group” for a
downloadable version of the whole document or individual files. If you would like a printed version or a
CD of the Appendix, please call 360-902-1600 or send a request to recreation@dnr.wa.gov.
Introduction
W      hen Washington entered statehood in 1889, the U.S. government
       endowed the state with 3.2 million acres of state trust land to provide
revenue for a number of trust beneficiaries, including public schools,
universities, and other state institutions. Unlike many western states that
were granted trust lands at statehood, Washington has retained nearly the
same acreage of trust lands. Today, the Washington State Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) manages a total of 5.6 million acres of state trust
lands, aquatic lands, and other state-owned lands. Most of these lands offer
public access to a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities.

In 2008, the Washington State Legislature recognized the importance
of outdoor recreation by unanimously establishing a work group to
make recommendations for improving recreation on lands managed by
DNR. In creating the Sustainable Recreation Work Group, the legislature
acknowledged that recreational opportunities are “instrumental in
promoting human health and well-being and are part of the heritage of
Washington state.”

In addition, the legislation stated that state lands managed by DNR “provide
significant recreational opportunities, along with other social, economic,
and environmental benefits.” (Substitute House Bill 2472, Appendix)

Recreation on DNR-managed lands
In the past 40 years, Washington’s population has nearly doubled. The
number of people recreating on state lands has also increased. In addition,
new technologies and innovations have vastly changed the way many
people experience the outdoors. Hiking, horseback
riding, fishing, and hunting were once the predominate
recreation activities on lands managed by DNR.
                                                           The demand for recreation
Now, newer forms of recreation also take place on          access on state lands has
the landscape, including downhill mountain biking,         increased...but dedicated
paragliding, paintball, and geocaching. Off-road
                                                           funding for recreation has
motorized use has increased eightfold in the past 28
years and brought newer types of vehicles onto state       failed to keep pace.
lands.

Increased use; decreased funding
While the demand for recreation access on state lands has increased,
dedicated funding for recreation has failed to keep pace. In 1990, DNR’s
recreation budget was nearly $1 per citizen of the state—about $5.4 million
a year. Today, that number is only about 37 cents per citizen—about $2.5
million each year. This decrease reflects a slow erosion of DNR’s recreation
budget over the years, followed by enormous and unprecedented cuts during
the 2009 legislative session.

Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   1
In 2009, DNR’s General Fund budget was cut by 60 percent. In addition,
the Recreation Program’s budget problems were further exacerbated when
the 2009 Legislature shifted funds out of the Nonhighway and Off-Road
Vehicle Activities (NOVA) program. This program typically provides
DNR’s Recreation Program with $1.5 million each year in grant funding.

As a result of funding cuts, DNR is struggling to effectively manage
recreation on state lands. The consequences are far-reaching and put the
public’s safety on state lands at risk, as well as contribute to the decline
of the environmental health of natural resources. In addition, the public’s
ability to fully enjoy recreation on DNR-managed lands suffers.

DNR currently manages 143 recreation facilities (i.e., campgrounds and
trailheads) and 1,000 miles of trails.To sustainably manage its current
facilities and trails, DNR would need an annual budget of about $16 million
to provide planning, maintenance, renovation, law enforcement presence,
and management and administrative costs.

DNR has identified a total of 74 landscapes (large blocks of DNR-managed
lands) that people already recreate on, yet DNR’s current developed
recreation facilities and designated trails represent only 15 percent of the
land area managed by the agency. There is tremendous potential for creating
new facilities and expanding recreation on existing landscapes, and the
public is clamoring for more places to recreate. However, developing new
landscapes for designated recreation areas requires careful, science-based
planning with a great deal of public involvement and collaboration—all of
which come at a cost.

On average, developing a new landscape would cost about $7.2 million,
which includes four new facilities and 30 miles of trails. Annual, ongoing
management and maintenance costs would be about $220,000.




2   Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
Sustainable Recreation Work Group
Formation
T    he Sustainable
     Recreation Work Group
was created by the 2008
Washington State Legislature
to make recommendations
for improving recreation
on state trust lands, aquatic
lands, and other state-owned
lands managed by DNR.
(SHB 2472, Appendix.)

As directed by the
legislature, Work Group
                                                                                           Photo: DNR/Toni Droscher
members were selected            Some of the original members of the Sustainable Recreation Work Group gather
from diverse backgrounds         at Eagle’s Nest overlook during a tour of the Ahtanum State Forest near Yakima,
across the state, each with      October 2008.
a tremendous interest in
recreation issues on state lands. The largest contingent of the Work Group
was made up of balanced representation from various recreation user
groups, both non-motorized and motorized. In addition,
membership included representatives from business
and conservation interests; a state land leaseholder; a                Work Group members
major timber landowner; state, local, federal, and tribal              were selected from diverse
governments; the Governor’s office; and the Washington
                                                                       backgrounds...each with
State Legislature.
                                                                       a tremendous interest in
Work Group membership was finalized in August 2008.                    recreation issues.
James Donaldson served as the Work Group’s chair until
he stepped down to run for public office in the spring of
2009. Following Donaldson’s departure, Representatives
Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) and Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake) became co-
chairs.

With just a little more than a year to complete their work, members quickly
set to work, adopting a vision statement and a charter and identifying the
key recreation policy issues to address during the course of their work.

Sustainable Recreation Work Group Charter
The Work Group adopted a charter during the first and second meetings to
guide their work (Appendix). The charter includes the background, purpose,
function, legislative direction, membership, member commitments, DNR
commitments and organization of meetings of the Work Group.

Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   3
Sustainable Recreation Work Group Vision
The Work Group’s vision for sustainable recreation on DNR-managed
lands took shape from a discussion of key values, a statement of context,
and input from the public on what was important to them (Vision and
Context, Appendix). This vision was the foundation that supported the Work
Group’s process in developing the recommendations to the legislature. (The
complete text of the Vision and Context is in the Appendix.

    Sustainable Recreation Work Group Vision Statement
    “The Sustainable Recreation Workgroup envisions a future in which
     lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
     offer distinct and diverse outdoor recreation opportunities within
     the overall fabric of recreation in Washington, attracting visitors
     from local communities, the region, the country and the world. Solid
     partnerships and a strong stewardship ethic among user groups,
     recreationists, private landowners, and government agencies help
     enhance enjoyable and safe outdoor experiences for everyone.
     Outdoor recreation on DNR-managed lands relies on sustainable
     funding from a variety of sources, as well as sound management
     and strategic planning. The public knows it can count on a range of
     DNR-managed lands to provide recreation, public revenue, healthy
     ecosystems, economic opportunities, and enhanced quality of life for
     current and future generations…”



Work Plan and Background
To reduce travel time and expenses, Work Group members and DNR staff
met and collaborated several times using web conferencing software to
develop the draft vision statement and conduct issue forum discussions. The
public was invited to listen in or attend these forums.

To bring the Work Group up to speed on essential information, DNR and
staff from other agencies prepared presentations and documents to brief the
members on the subject matter.

Background papers created for the Work Group:
   •	 Background on Access 1 (i.e., current opportunities, future demand)
   •	 Background on Access 2 (i.e., land access, enforcement, liability)
   •	 Background on Funding (i.e., current costs, multi-state comparison)
   •	 Analysis of Funding Options
   •	 Analysis of Additional Funding Options
   •	 Environmental Impacts Paper
   •	 DNR’s Land Management Obligations

These documents are provided in a separate, companion Appendix
document.
4    Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
Major Milestones
Vision Development and Issue Identification
    •	 September 2008 – Public workshops to identify issues and vision
       (nine locations throughout Washington State)
    •	 September 26, 2008 – First meeting: Issaquah
    •	 October 29, 2008 – Second meeting: Yakima
    •	 October 30, 2008 – Field visit: Ahtanum State Forest
    •	 November 14, 2008 – Third meeting: Seattle
    •	 December 2008 – Progress report submitted to Legislature

Fact Finding and Issue Development
   •	 January – April, 2009 – Work sessions (topic forums) via online
       meetings
   •	 May 7, 2009 – Fourth meeting: SeaTac

Issue Deliberation and Recommendation Development
    •	 September 11, 2009 – Fifth meeting: Olympia
    •	 October, 2009 – Public meetings: 6 locations around the state
    •	 October 29, 2009 – Final meeting: Lacey

Final Recommendations and Work Group Report
   •	 December 2009 – Final report to Legislature



Policy Issues
The legislature directed the Work Group to examine policy issues related to
recreation on DNR-managed lands. Recommendations and findings needed
to be environmentally responsible, sustainably funded, and compatible with
trust land obligations. During their second and third meetings, Work Group
members discussed the policy issues in the table on the following page.
Based on input from the public and discussion within the Work Group,
members ranked these issues as the highest priority to address.




Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   5
                                      Priority                                   Priority
    Issue
                                       score     Issue                            score
    Funding                               9      Illegal activities and               4
                                                 enforcement
    Resource / environmental              9      Recreation integration into          4
    protection (including wildfire)              DNR strategic planning
    Availability of lands, access,        7      Ownership patterns and               3
    and information                              consolidation of lands
    Planning and coordination             6      Neighbor and right-of-way            2
                                                 grantor issues
    DNR’s Distinctive role /              6      Safety and legal liability           2
    appropriate types, levels of
    service, and locations / use
    of facilities
    Elevating awareness about             6      Opportunities for local              2
    DNR’s distinct role                          collaboration and volunteer
                                                 opportunities
    Education                             5      Consistency with trust land          1
                                                 management

After ranking these priorities, the Work Group conducted a series of topic
forums, in which subgroups of the membership met to discuss each specific
issue and report their findings back to the larger group. Initially, all of these
issues were to be addressed in different Work Group forums. However, due
to budgetary restraints and reduced DNR staff resources, the Work Group
was able to fully address two key topics: funding and issues related to
access.

During the course of the forums, it became clear that finding sustainable
funding was the most important issue to address. The Work Group focused
much of its efforts on this issue, as well as issues related to access. The
group identified numerous funding and access options, which were
characterized as short-, mid-, and long-term.

Access was seen as a larger umbrella issue that included discussions
about education, enforcement, and environmental impacts, planning and
coordination, availability of access to lands, ownership patterns, and safety
and liability. The final recommendations associated with access addressed
many of these broader, related issues.




6      Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
Public Involvement
The legislature directed the Work Group to engage the public throughout the
process to help the members develop their recommendations. DNR helped
capture public input through workshops, meetings, online surveys, and other
outreach efforts. The smaller, subgroup topic forums were also open to the
public to either listen in on or attend in person.

In September 2008, DNR sponsored a series of public workshops around
the state to gather input from individuals and user groups about where
they recreate and what kinds of recreational activities they enjoy. DNR
conducted an online survey in September and October 2008 to gather even
more input on these same questions. In addition, DNR asked the public for
their vision for recreation on DNR-managed lands for the next 50 years.

A total of 1,642 people responded to the online survey, and more than 400
people attended the following workshops:

   •   September 9, 2008 – Issaquah
   •   September 10, 2008 – Okanogan
   •   September 10, 2008 – Olympia
   •   September 11, 2008 – Deer Park
   •   September 15, 2008 – Hoquiam
   •   September 15, 2008 – Vancouver
   •   September 16, 2008 – Port Angeles
   •   September 16, 2008 – Burlington
   •   September 17, 2008 – Ellensburg

As the Work Group conducted their issue forums to address funding and
access, DNR created an online survey for the public to provide their input.
The online survey was available for two weeks in mid-January 2009. DNR
received 873 responses.

In Fall 2009, DNR hosted a series of public meetings around the state to
gather input from individuals and user groups regarding the Work Group’s
preliminary recommendations. At the same time, DNR provided an online
survey to gather additional input on the preliminary recommendations.

A total of 255 people responded to the online survey and more than 100
people attended the following public meetings:
   • September 29, 2009 – Issaquah City Hall, Eagle Room, Issaquah
   • September 30, 2009 – Central Washington University, Ellensburg
   • October 1, 2009 – Deer Park Library, Deer Park
   • October 5, 2009 – DNR Pacific Cascade Region Office, Castle Rock
   • October 6, 2009 – Port Angeles Library, Port Angeles
   • October 7, 2009 – Burlington Public Library, Burlington


Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   7
DNR staff collected responses from all the workshops, meetings, and
online surveys. Summaries of these responses are in the Appendix. The full
responses to DNR’s online surveys are available on DNR’s website at:
www.dnr.wa.gov/. Follow the link to “Sustainable Recreation Work Group.”




8   Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
Recommendations
R   ecommendations fall into two main categories: funding and access.
    Funding recommendations are generally presented by least revenue
generating to greatest revenue generating—not by preference or importance.
The Work Group has also estimated the time it would take to implement
each recommendation.

The recommendations are organized into three sections:
 •	 Recommendations to the Washington State Legislature
 •	 Recommendations to the Washington State Department of Natural
     Resources
 •	 Options considered but not recommended by the Sustainable
     Recreation Work Group


Recommendations to the Legislature

FUNDING
Goal: Provide sustainable funding for outdoor recreation on
lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) from a variety of sources.

A. User Fees
User Fee 1: Recommend that the legislature provide DNR with the
authority to charge a fee for specific recreation sites and events
through a rule-making process and with public involvement.

User Fee 2: Recommend that the legislature direct DNR, State Parks,
and WDFW to explore the possibility of a multi-agency access pass.
The three agencies would report their findings back to the legislature.

Work Group members generally achieved consensus on recommendations
for these two types of user fees. For either type of fee to be a viable
option, the Washington State Legislature would need to change the state’s
recreational immunity statute. Currently, WDFW and State Parks have an
exception to loss of immunity when charging a statewide fee. Such a change
would provide consistent treatment for all agencies offering recreational
access.

Estimated annual revenue: Uncertain. Depending on administrative
costs, annual revenue could be as much as $100,000 for Option 1 and up to
$800,000 for Option 2.
Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Mid-term


Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   9
Highlights of the Work Group discussion
Collecting fees for specific recreation sites and/or events must be efficient
and generate a positive revenue flow. Funds generated should be reinvested
into managing and providing recreational opportunities at the site where
collected. DNR should conduct a public rule-making process to develop a
detailed fee structure. This public process would also solicit input on fee-
waivers for active volunteers and address how to avoid excluding segments
of the population from recreating on DNR-managed lands.

The study and/or trials of a fee-based pass should be a joint effort with
DNR, State Parks, and WDFW, although recommendations could be to
not include all three in a statewide fee. A pass should be integrated with
other site or event-specific fees. The exploratory process to understand
the viability of an access pass should specifically look at: the inclusion
of federally managed lands; opportunities to ensure efficient collection
and investment of funds; waivers/fee structure for active volunteers;
and methods that will avoid excluding segments of the population from
recreating on DNR-managed lands.

B. Recreational Immunity, Part 1
Recommend that the legislature amend the recreational immunity
statute (RCW 4.24.210) to allow DNR to charge an access fee while
retaining its recreational immunity, similar to Washington State Parks
and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Work Group members achieved general consensus on this recommendation,
which was seen as a necessary action to charging fees and participating in
the development of a public lands access pass.

Estimated annual revenue: This option provides no direct revenue.
Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Short-term

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
Administrative changes to the recreational immunity statute would put DNR
on equal footing with other state agencies that provide similar opportunities.
It would allow the agency to charge user fees without losing its recreational
immunity. A related action by the legislature would be to provide similar
immunity for private lands (see Access Goal 2.B); however, Work Group
members agreed the first emphasis of recreational immunity should be on
lands managed by the state.

C. Concessionaires
Recommend that the legislature provide DNR with the authority to
enter into two concessionaire pilot projects, one located on the east
side of the state and the other located on the west side. DNR will
report back to the legislature on its findings following the completion
of the pilot projects.

10 Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
Work Group members achieved general consensus on establishing a pilot
project to explore the viability of concessionaires as a method to provide
recreation opportunities.

Estimated revenue: $3,500 per campground agreement
Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Short-term

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
A pilot project would provide an opportunity to better understand how
concessionaires could be compatible with DNR’s tradition of providing
primitive, relatively dispersed recreation experiences. In addition, the
agency would explore how not to preclude potential users due to high fees
and costs. Allowing concessionaires in well-suited campgrounds could
improve the quality of service provided, while reducing management costs
for DNR. However, in order to continue to support the needs of recreational
users, DNR may need to conduct substantial oversight in managing
concessionaires effectively. Possible elements of a pilot project could
include developing and evaluating concessionaire contracts, considerations
for sites funded by the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) and other
agencies, and user surveys to explore the risk of exclusionary affects of
concessionaire-managed campgrounds.

D. Increase the Gas Tax Refund to the Nonhighway and
Off-Road Vehicle Activities Program (NOVA)
Recommend that the legislature remove the current cap on the
fuel tax amount used to calculate the refund for NOVA purposes,
consistent with the Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee’s 2007
Expedited Tax Preference Performance Reviews.

The Work Group’s general consensus on this recommendation is further
strengthened by its view that NOVA funding needs to be fully restored. (The
2009 Legislature transferred NOVA funds for the current biennium to State
Parks.) Work Group members also rallied around the concept that NOVA
funding needs to be protected from any future attempts to divert the funds to
other uses.

Estimated annual revenue: $1.1 million to DNR and 2.3 million to the
NOVA grant program
Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Short-to mid-term

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
Once NOVA funding is restored and protected, the Work Group
recommends the removal of the current cap on the tax amount from which
the NOVA refund is calculated. Such an adjustment could be implemented
gradually over a few years and would best be accomplished through a
coordinated effort among recreational interests (e.g., trail-based recreation,

Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   11
camping, boating, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and watchable wildlife
enthusiasts).

E. Lottery
Recommend that the legislature establish a new lottery
or similar game dedicated specifically to the planning,
development, and maintenance of recreational facilities and
trails on DNR-managed lands.

While a lottery was not initially a consensus recommendation, Work Group
members eventually reached consensus based on the amount of revenue for
recreation that lottery games could potentially provide. Games such as a
new Powerball, Keno, or Scratch could be established in Washington State
for this purpose.

Estimated annual revenue: $4-8 million
Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Mid-term

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
While Work Group members recognized the potential of generating
substantial revenue through lottery, they did express concerns about
possible negative connotations of associating outdoor recreation with
gambling. Additionally the long-term viability of new lottery games may be
limited due to the number of existing games.

F. Reallocate Sales Tax Revenue from Outdoor
Sporting Goods
Recommend that the legislature reallocate a calculated portion of
sales tax revenue attributed to the purchase of sporting goods for
outdoor recreation in Washington State, modeled after the outdoor
recreation program funding for the state of Texas.

The success of the Texas sporting goods tax reimbursement program
contributed to gaining Work Group consensus on this recommendation.
This option would not be a new tax, but rather a reallocation of the existing
sales tax revenue, based on a portion of sporting good sales in Washington
State. The Texas model allocates money in a manner that does not require
additional tracking of purchases by retailers. Washington would streamline
administration of this taxing structure by adopting a similar approach. The
money generated from the existing sales tax on outdoor sporting goods
could fund outdoor recreation on lands managed by various government
agencies including DNR, Fish and Wildlife, cities and counties.

Estimated annual revenue: $30 million
Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Mid-term



12 Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
Highlights of the Work Group discussion
Discussions about this recommendation generated the sentiment that
both outdoor sporting goods customers and retailers would likely benefit.
The reinvestment of funds would make outdoor recreation opportunities
in Washington Sstate more attractive with improved facilities and
opportunities that may stimulate increased purchases.

G. New Statutory Trust Lands
Recommend that the legislature create and fund the acquisition of a
modest collection of lands in a new classification of statutory trust
managed by DNR for the primary purpose of generating revenue for
the DNR Recreation Program statewide.

The consensus achieved on this recommendation comes from the potential
to eventually generate a significant amount of funds for outdoor recreation,
coupled with the ability to protect additional working forest and farm land
from conversion in key areas threatened by conversion, and that it appears
to be a good fit for DNR’s mission.

Estimated annual revenue: $30 million
Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Long-term

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
The group identified many positive aspects of a new statutory trust.
The enthusiasm for this recommendation is somewhat tempered by the
reality that it will take a long time before revenue would be realized. The
group discussed possible sources of funding to acquire land for the new
trust, including private donations, general obligation bonds, and revenue
bonds. In addition to the possible purchase of land for such a trust, the
group discussed the possible acquisition of existing trust lands that might
be available. The success of this recommendation strongly depends on
partnerships with organizations that can assist with and provide methods to
acquire the necessary land base and protect lands from being converted to
development.




Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   13
ACCESS

ACCESS GOAL 1: Ensure that DNR-managed lands provide
safe, environmentally sustainable and enjoyable recreational
opportunities for a diverse recreating public.

A. Education and Enforcement
Recommend that the legislature create a dedicated funding source to
pay for an integrated education and enforcement presence on DNR-
managed lands, ranging from a volunteer forest watch-type program
to paid law enforcement officers.

Consensus on this recommendation illustrates the group’s recognition of
how public safety is linked to an integrated education and enforcement
presence on DNR-managed lands.

Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Short-term

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
Work Group members acknowledged the strong need for education and
enforcement presence on DNR-managed lands. Members see possible
opportunities and advantages in consolidating enforcement staff from other
natural resources agencies. The Work Group also seeks to avoid changing
the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP).

B. Recreational Immunity, Part 2
Recommend that the legislature amend the recreational immunity
statute (RCW 4.24.210) so that any landowner would not lose his
or her recreational immunity in situations where there is an injury
involving a “known dangerous, artificial, latent condition” for which
warning signs have not been conspicuously posted.

Consensus on this recommendation relates in part to the recognition that
amending the statute could lead to expanded access to public and private
lands. If amendments are made, landowners may be more willing to grant
access, since the risk of lawsuits from those accessing their lands is reduced.
This could improve access across private land to otherwise inaccessible
state land.

Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Mid-term

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
Even with amendments to the statute, it would be important that the
landowner not be completely absolved from having any responsibility

14 Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
for injuries that may occur on their land. Landowners would still be held
liable for any actions that intentionally and knowingly injure another
person. It was also noted that the recommended amendment would bring
Washington’s recreational immunity statute more in line with other states.


ACCESS GOAL 2: Obtain more public access to DNR-
managed uplands and aquatic lands.

A. Purchase Access
Recommend that the legislature create and fund an account that state
agencies, including DNR, can use to acquire public access though
private property onto state lands from a willing seller.

Consensus toward this recommendation was strengthened by the fact that,
currently, 36 percent of DNR roads have some form of access restriction,
and many state-owned tidelands and shorelines are only accessible by boat.
Additionally, many of DNR’s easements crossing private lands to enter state
lands only provide access for management purposes and do not allow for
public access.

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
As a whole, the Work Group generally supports the creation of an account
that can be used to acquire public access. However, the administrative
details will need to be clarified, including whether it is an ongoing account
to be used by state agencies at any time, or if funds would be appropriated
on an ad-hoc basis by the legislature. In general, an account could be
used for outright purchase of lands, as well as to create a new incentive
to renegotiate the current right-of-way agreements to provide for public
access in exchange for increased compensation. The success of this
recommendation depends on DNR’s ability to adequately manage current
recreational facilities and lands before acquiring new opportunities.

B. Recreational Immunity for Private Landowners
Charging Fees
Recommend that the legislature amend the recreational immunity
statute (RCW 4.24.210) to allow private landowners to charge a
reasonable administrative fee while retaining their recreational
immunity.

Opportunities to increase access for recreational uses contributed to gaining
consensus on this recommendation. Similar to the other immunity-related
recommendations, landowners may be more willing to grant access if the
risk of lawsuits from those accessing their lands is reduced.

Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Mid-term

Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   15
Highlights of the Work Group discussion
Work Group members felt that landowners who open their land to the public
in ways that incur minor administrative costs should be able to charge a
reasonable fee associated with those costs without losing their immunity.
Additionally, protections under recreational immunity that would apply
to landowners who open up their lands to the recreating public, as well as
provide access from their lands to DNR-managed lands, should not apply
to those who provide outdoor recreation for commercial purposes, such as a
ski resort or outdoor amusement park.


Recommendations to the Washington
State Department of Natural Resources

ACCESS GOAL 1

A. Unauthorized Trails and Strategic Planning
Recommend that DNR address environmental and other impacts
from recreational use on DNR-managed lands—including impacts
from unauthorized trails—through a strategic, collaborative approach
that includes in-depth planning for the most critical landscapes or
controlling and /or mitigating impacts in a variety of ways in the
absence of an in-depth planning process.

Consensus on this recommendation is based on the recognition that many
of DNR’s current recreational facilities are outdated, since they were
established in the 1970s and 1980s when there was less demand for and
fewer diverse uses of recreation. Also, at the time these recreation areas
were developed, DNR did not have a science-based nor a collaborative
approach to planning. As a result, most of the current facilities are not
ideally located nor designed, presenting both potential risks to public safety
and to the environmental health of the area’s natural resources.

Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Mid-term

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
As part of the priority approach to landscape planning that DNR currently
uses, the agency could, in very limited circumstances, consider whether
some existing user-built trails may address major gaps in trail availability,
have minimal environmental impact, and could be effectively managed
and maintained. In such limited circumstances and as part of recreation
landscape planning, DNR could consider incorporating some user-built
trails into the authorized trail system.




16 Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
Work Group members wanted to make sure that any possible incorporation
of unauthorized trails into DNR’s trail system not give the impression that
DNR condones the building of unauthorized trails—either in the past or in
the future.

The Work Group also recommended an open, collaborative approach, either
case-by-case or statewide, to address problems arising from public use in
landscapes not scheduled for in-depth planning. Mitigation responses could
include the closing, limiting, or redirecting public access when necessary.



ACCESS GOAL 2

B. Block Up Lands
Recommend that DNR continue to block up trust land ownership and
acquire trust ownership of key parcels, providing both increased
recreational access and efficient management.

Consensus on this recommendation relates to the efficiencies and benefits
associated with managing larger parcels of land rather than smaller,
scattered parcels.

Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Mid-term

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
When blocking up lands, DNR should maintain or expand the overall
land base it manages and, whenever possible, look for opportunities to
provide public access for recreational uses, while considering habitat and
conservation needs. Local governments and other providers of recreation
should be given an opportunity to acquire lands that DNR considers for sale
or transfer in order to maintain or enhance the public land base.


Options Considered but not
Recommended

A. License Tab Opt-out Donation
The Work Group decided against recommending that the legislature
use any surplus beyond the projected $23 million in annual revenue
from the $5 license tab fee donation for State Parks to some way
benefit the DNR Recreation Program.

Work Group members decided to not recommend this option to the
legislature based on the significant level of uncertainty in the amount of
potential revenue that could be generated. Efforts and emphasis could be

Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   17
better applied in working toward more certain outcomes that would support
recreational opportunities.

Estimated annual revenue: Uncertain, because this revenue source is
based on donations and will depend on whether people fully understand the
opt-out portion of their license tab renewal form. However, based on other
states’ experiences, this could generate about $11.5 million above the $23
million estimated to be available for State Parks.

Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Mid-term

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
Restoring and protecting NOVA funds was seen as a far more beneficial
approach rather than waiting for funds that may or may not be realized.
The legislature could consider this option in the future if the current license
tab opt-out donation proves to generate revenue that exceeds State Park’s
funding needs.

B. Other Funding Ideas From Public Comments
Work Group members did not reach consensus on recommending
extending the existing 0.5 percent watercraft excise tax to recreational
road vehicles and trailers.

The Work Group did not fully explore this idea and, therefore, was
unable to achieve consensus on forwarding it to the legislature for further
consideration.

Estimated annual revenue: Could potentially raise over $16 million
annually.
Estimated timeframe for achieving outcome: Short-term horizon

Highlights of the Work Group discussion
This recommendation targets a form of recreation that, for the most part,
does not use DNR land. Therefore, the relevancy of supporting DNR-
managed recreation is questionable. Work Group members also mentioned
the unpopularity of vehicle excise taxes in Washington State.




18 Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009
Conclusion
The members of the Sustainable Recreation Work Group were honored
to have been a part of this important process to provide a vision and
recommendations for improving recreation on DNR-managed lands.
Washingtonians are passionate about outdoor recreation, and visitors come
from far and wide to experience our diverse landscapes of mountains,
forests, deserts, and marine and freshwater environments. Work Group
members appreciate the opportunity to help shape a sustainable future for
recreation in this state.

As the Work Group members wrapped up this yearlong process to develop
recommendations for sustainable recreation, many expressed the desire to
continue to communicate and coordinate efforts during the 2010 legislative
session and beyond. Their goal is to help build a foundation and sustain the
momentum so that these recommendations can also be considered in future
legislative sessions.




Sustainable Recreation Work Group: Final Report to the Legislature | December 2009   19