Fort Worden cracks down on Discover Pass enforcement
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Fort Worden State Park manager Allison Alderman, left, and staff member Tina Miller review the different Discover Pass versions in the park office. Fort Worden is cracking down on pass enforcement starting this weekend

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — Fort Worden State Park is stepping up its enforcement of the Discover Pass this weekend after nearly a year of uncertainty as to how the park should apply the State Parks pass requirements to visitors.

“Up to now, enforcement has been very difficult,” Fort Worden Manager Allison Alderman said.

“This happened because a lot of day-use events were planned before June 30, when the pass requirement went into effect.”

Now that people are aware of the requirement, the park will lower its tolerance for those who do not display the pass on their car's windshield, Alderman said.

Rangers who find a car bearing no Discover Pass will attempt to contact the car's owner and give him or her the opportunity to purchase either a day-use pass for $10 or a one-year Discover Pass for $30.

If the ranger is unsuccessful, the car will receive a $99 parking citation.

“We don't want to issue tickets and are hoping that our visitors will understand the dire financial situation we are facing and that they will support State Parks by purchasing a Discover Pass,” Alderman said.

“The pass is now transferrable between two vehicles and gives them access to millions of acres of Washington state-managed recreation lands — including state parks, water-access points, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and trailheads.”

Alderman said Fort Worden is lagging behind the rest of the state with regard to pass enforcement.

She said that from July 1, 2011, to May 2 last week, rangers statewide issued 5,540 citations and 135 written warnings for failure to display the Discover Pass.

But only 19 of those citations were issued at Fort Worden.

Until March 30, the Discover Pass has generated a total of just more than $10 million in revenue.

“This is much less than projected,” Alderman said.

“But it's enough that our leadership believes that with recent legislative improvements and upcoming enhanced marketing, it can be successful in generating most of the revenue needed to keep State Parks open, staffed and maintained.”

The inconsistencies in enforcement result from a number of tenants at Fort Worden — such as the Port Townsend Marine Life Center and Peninsula College — that draw guests.

Special considerations can be made for tenants and special events, Alderman said.

Event organizers can purchase day or annual passes in bulk for participants, and when the layout of the park permits it, the event organizer can arrange with the park manager to lease a designated parking lot for the duration of the event.

The cost is based on $10 per space, but the overall cost of parking for the event may be reduced by not having to pay for turnover in those stalls.

For a private event such as a wedding, the event organizer prepurchases one-day passes for guests. Discounts to facility rentals and event fees can be negotiated, Alderman said.

Some event attendees may choose to park outside Fort Worden and walk in for an event — but they need to make sure they are parked legally so they don't get impounded, ticketed or towed on Port Townsend city streets, Alderman said.

“The default assumption is that the Discover Pass is required for attending special events in parks, just as it is for engaging in other social and recreational activities in parks,” Alderman said.

“We hope that visitors will take pride in their support of the state park system.”

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 09. 2012 5:50PM
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