Washington’s flirtation with ending sno-park reciprocity with Oregon died on Wednesday when Gov. Chris Gregoire issued an order suspending the state rule-making process through 2011.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission was scheduled to consider on Friday terminating the 30-year agreement when the panel met in Olympia.
The sno-park programs in both states started more than three decades ago. Winter recreationists buy vehicle permits with the money used to plow roads and parking lots and groom trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobile riding.
Washington charges $20 for a daily permit and $40 for a seasonal permit. Oregon charges $4 for a daily permit, $9 for a three-consecutive-day permit and $25 for a seasonal permit.
Oregon requires a sno-park permit at commercial downhill ski areas plus backcountry recreation lots. That gives Oregon a much broader base of buyers than in Washington, which does not require the permits at downhill ski areas.
At $4 versus $20 for a daily permit, or $25 versus $40 for a seasonal permit, Oregonians can use Washington locales at less cost than in-state residents.
Wayne McLaughlin of the Washington parks agency staff said it is believed Washington could generate more money to pay for its winter program without the reciprocity agreement.
“Everybody is hunting for dollars,” he said. “This looks like a revenue leak we could plug.”
But Gregoire said, in a news release, in these tough economic times the effort small businesses put in meeting changing state requirements “would be better spent in improving their bottom line, and adding new employees.”
McLaughlin said ending sno-park reciprocity requires a change in the Washington Administrative Code, thus falls under the order suspending rule-making.
Winter recreation parking lots in the southern Gifford Pinchot National Forest, particularly Marble Mountain on the south side of the Mount St. Helens and Oldman Pass in the upper Wind River area, get significant use by Oregon-licensed vehicles.