Hunting seasons are still weeks away, but starting today – and worth thinking about over the 4th of July holiday weekend when we celebrate the birth of this nation (and reflect why taxation played a major role in the revolution) – many outdoorsmen and women may discover this state’s “Discover Pass” requirement the hard way.
Without it, on lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources, you could get a $99 citation. That includes, according to the Department of Fish & Wildlife, just for driving down a road that crosses DNR land on the way to a local national forest, or even lands owned by the WDFW. The Discover Pass costs $30 annually (with a $5 additional fee for the dealers) or $10 a day. Buy one right now if you’d like by clicking here.
Now, whether driving down a road could get you popped may be a stretch, but with the checkerboard pattern of state WDFW and DNR lands where people hunt and recreate, one could easily be on the wrong piece of property and get slammed.
This column happens to know quite a few areas where one will cross through state DNR land to reach WDFW or national forest land. You will find checkerboard sections all over the Central Cascades, especially north of Ellensburg on the Colockum, and southwest from Ellensburg as one climbs the slopes onto the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area. Ditto as one drives west from Naches up onto Bethel Ridge and the Oak Creek Wildlife Area.
This may come as something of a surprise to people who travel off the pavement to favorite camping spots, fishing holes or hunting grounds. A whopping 84 percent of Discover Pass revenues go to state parks operations, so even if you never go near a state park (you can’t hunt or even shoot recreationally on state park property), if you drive the back roads of central Washington this year to hit your favorite lake or stream, or find a grouse, hunt a deer or (fat chance of this) shoot an elk, you will be paying about $25 of that $30 Discover Pass fee to support the state parks program. Only 8 percent goes to the WDFW and the other 8 percent goes to the DNR.
Q. Which agencies receive the money from the Discover Pass fee?
A. The revenue will be shared among the three agencies as follows:
· 84 percent to State Parks
· 8 percent Fish and Wildlife
· 8 percent Department of Natural Resources
Revenue from the Discover Pass is needed to make up the loss of general fund money that had historically been available for recreation on state lands. The state budget for the next two years (2011-2013 biennium) has almost no general fund dollars (tax revenue) for recreation on state lands.—From the Discover Pass website
Translation: Don’t expect that beater road system up on the L.T. Murray to be improved anytime soon.
The Discover Pass, or as one guy on the Northwest Hikers forum calls it, the “Discover your Rectum Pass,” as in “bend over taxpayers, here it comes again” is going to be necessary for tens of thousands of hunters this fall. Today is the first day you need it. Not only are hikers talking about it, so are hunters.
Critics will call it government-sanctioned robbery. That land is public land. Why should taxpayers who already pay for that land have to pay just to cross it? There are some exemptions. You probably don’t qualify for any of them.
As we prepare to observe the 235th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, it will be a good weekend for taxpayers to reflect just why this country started, how it started and what can be done about this Discover Pass and the people whose policies made it necessary, and those bureaucrats and consultants who dreamed it up.
American anger over taxes led to talk of revolution, and as this column noted back on April 19, an attempt by the British to disarm the colonial militia provoked violent confrontations in Lexington and Concord.
Whatever else the Discover Pass is, it happens to be a hidden tax; a tax on the “privilege” of using public lands that we have already paid for.
Supporters argue that we need this “pass” fee to pay for state parks and lands management that the Democrat-controlled Legislature left largely unfunded over the next biennium. Critics can fire right back that had it not been for the “Spend-like-there-is-no-tomorrow policies of the Democrat majority under 30 years of Democrat governors in Olympia, the Evergreen State would not be in the fiscal derailment it now must endure.
Hunters and gun owners may be seen differently by different people, but what we all have in common is that we are taxpayers. Many of us are about to discover that the Discover Pass may soon come to symbolize why we are fed up with government.
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