Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Back from vacation

I just returned today from vacationing for a few days in central Washington with family and friends. Everybody needs a break once in a while, and I wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to get away and relax. (That's why I haven't been posting the last few days).

We visited Alta Lake State Park while we were over on the other side of the Cascades. It's a small, tranquil lake surrounded by rocky cliffs and trees. The state park isn't big, but it's a delightful place - beautiful scenery, a beach, nice campsites. Here's a photo:

Alta Lake Photo

Visiting Alta Lake reminded me of the point I made in my last post, before I left: quality public services require an investment from us, the people of Washington. State parks and recreational facilities couldn't exist for all citizens to enjoy without our tax dollars.

There is no free lunch. There are tremendous consequences to slashing government revenue. Parks and green spaces add so much to our communities, and unfortunately they're often the first to lose funding when cuts are made.

The state parks system, in the last few years, has been so starved for money that officials instituted a daily vehicle parking fee:
The State Parks and Recreation Commission initiated collection of a statewide day vehicle parking fee on Jan. 1, 2003. It was a year of budget cuts, following years of restricted budgets for parks. The fee was put into place to keep parks open and also to make improvements. From 2003 through 2005, State Parks collected approximately $11 million in fees. In 2003-05 much of the money was used to make improvements in parks all over the state.
Park attendance subsequently dropped after the fee was created, and the Legislature and Governor responded in the last legislative session by repealing it. Again, the point here is that public services cost money. A great parks system helps preserve Washington's beauty and history, attracts visitors from other states and countries, and makes our communities strong.

But we can't have a great parks system for free. We have to make the investment.

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