Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

The new State Park Access Pass funding proposal: what is it?

State Park Closure Action Alert CenterYesterday the Legislature’s Budget Conference Committee voted to eliminate general budget funding for State Parks and replace it with a new funding source. Which leads to the natural question, how would this new funding work?

The funding concept, variously dubbed the State Park Access Pass or Vehicle Park Pass, is based on legislation proposed last year by then-Assemblymember John Laird (the bill did not pass the Senate). Here are some details:

  • The proposal would increase California’s annual vehicle license fee for non-commercial vehicles by $15.
  • The money collected would be dedicated for State Parks operation.
  • The total collections would replace the general fund money that is now stripped from the State Parks budget.
  • In exchange for paying the fee, park visitors driving vehicles with California plates would receive free day-use parking at all state parks, all year long.
  • The Pass would cover access to all state parks but would not replace camping, guided tour, or other special activity fees.

The State Park Access Pass program–if approved by the Legislature and Governor–will keep the State Park system open and put operations on a more reliable financial footing for future years.

BUT it has to be passed as part of the budget package now under negotiation. New fees can be unpopular, and the outcome is far from certain.

You letter in support of Mono Lake, Bodie, and all State Parks will make a difference! Please visit our Action Alert Center to write a letter now and to track further State Parks updates.