Washingtonians participate in outdoor recreation more than 445 million days each year, or on average, we spend 56 days a year recreating outdoors. Increasing public access and use of state recreation lands is a priority intended to enhance personal health, create and sustain a healthy environment and build healthy local and state economies. It is widely accepted that active outdoor recreation provides physical and mental health benefits; exercise boosts the immune system, helps to prevent obesity and diminishes risk of disease, while increasing life expectancy. Meanwhile, recent economic studies show that outdoor recreation in Washington state directly and indirectly supports 199,000 jobs and that consumer spending on recreation gear and services generates $21.6 billion in recreation trips and equipment annually. Washington state’s recreation is diverse, offering and a large number of quality outdoor recreation activities:
- Washington state parks offer something for everyone. Hikers, bicyclists, boaters, rock climbers, horseback riders, surfers, and other active winter recreationists such as skiers and snow-shoers find many great recreation options in the state park system. Campers, picnickers and other visitors find parks a healthy and affordable way to explore and enjoy nature, create memories and connect with the state’s rich historical and cultural heritage through interpretive centers, events and exhibits.
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers thousands of acres of natural areas for hunting or wildlife viewing and public access to shorelines and lakes for fishing.
- The Department of Natural Resource lands offer a variety of outdoor recreational experiences including hiking, hunting, fishing, off-road vehicle (ORV) riding, mountain biking, and boating.
Access to Washington State's public recreation lands may be measured by sales of the annual Discover Pass and associated one-day permit, as well as hunting and fishing licenses issued. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife collects monthly figures on hunting and fishing licenses issued. From July 2012 through June 2015, the three natural resource agencies (State Parks, Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildife, Washington Department of Natural Resources) increased the participation in outdoor recreation on state recreation lands and waters by 11.6% through the fiscal year sales of approximately 321,000 more Discover Passes/permits and fishing and hunting licenses, meeting and exceeding their 4% target increase by 2016.
To ensure success and continued support for the Discover Pass program, the three state natural resource agencies continue work to improve the Discover Pass so that it is convenient for users and continues to generate the revenue necessary to operate and provide the state recreation lands that people want.
- State Parks is installing purchasing machines that take credit or debit cards in parks for convenience of customers wishing to buy Discover Pass in parks.
- In addition, an Action Plan for improving Discover Pass products and sales focused on the following actions during FY 2014: Redesign and produce a new Discover Pas product, and tie the marketing plan to the product relaunch; develop consistent Discover Pass policies for administering the program; expand the retail program and explore promotional partnerships, bulk sales and media partnerships; make the annual Discover Pass the prominent default product for sales on-line and in State Parks; improve customer understanding and loyalty through customer surveys.
- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is continuing marketing efforts and developing combined hunting and fishing licenses to further encourage participation in these activities. WDFW is launching a marketing campaign for summer recreation to increase fishing participation among campers and boaters.
Please plan to visit a state park or recreation area, and take advantage of these incredible public recreation opportunities. When you buy a $30 Discover Pass, you get a year’s worth of access to millions of acres of parks, trails, and wildlife and heritage areas.
Learn the latest about public recreation lands from the following websites: Washington State Parks: http://www.parks.state.wa.us/
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: http://wdfw.wa.gov/
Washington Department of Natural Resources: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/RecreationEducation/Pages/Home.aspx