Rossi bipartisan proposal to preserve state parks comes before Senate budget panel

Bill would create the Evans State Parks Preservation Account, named after former Governor Dan Evans

Today the Senate Ways and Means Committee held a public hearing on Sen. Dino Rossi’s bipartisan proposal to help secure the future of Washington’s state parks and establish a reliable source of funding for park preservation, maintenance and improvements.

“While our parks are one of the most valued, used and enjoyed components of state government, the park system is too often neglected,” said Rossi, R-Sammamish. “Many parks are in a state of utter dilapidation, with maintenance needed to keep bathrooms functioning, electricity working and sewage flowing properly. With an average of 33 million visitors per year, many facilities are in need of repair or replacement now; it can no longer be put off for another day.”

Washington has 125 developed state parks, totaling 125,000 acres. The State Parks and Recreation Commission estimates there is a $500 million backlog of deferred maintenance on existing facilities. The estimate is the result of an agency review of existing facilities and identifying upgrades necessary to maintain access to recreation for the public.

Rossi’s proposal, Senate Bill 5838, would authorize the State Finance Committee to issue state bonds, with the resulting revenue dedicated to addressing park maintenance and improvement measures through 2025. The bonds would be issued within the state’s existing debt limit, with proceeds deposited in a new account called Evans State Parks, after former Governor Dan Evans.

“Governor Evans is an avid outdoorsman and conservationist, who during his years of service in state and federal government was dedicated to protecting our state parks,” said Rossi. “I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Governor Evans than this effort to preserve and improve our parks for the next generation of Washingtonians.”