California's park system is raising prices on annual day-use passes to prevent further service cuts, says state parks spokesman Roy Stearns.
On May 1 the following passes will increase:
- Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass, from $125 to $195
- Golden Poppy Vehicle Day Use Pass, from $90 to $125
- Boat Use Pass (Sticker), from $75 to $100
- Limited Use Golden Bear Pass, from $10 to $20
Although the parks department expects that some visitors will be priced out of the new passes, they project making between $1 to $1.5 million per year from the increased fees.
"Will park attendance go down? We don't think so," says Stearns. "People who normally buy a pass might stop buying the pass and just pay the day use. People who buy the pass because they go often will [still] buy the pass… [I]f you go more than 15 times a year, like boaters and surfers, you'll buy the pass because it's still a good deal."
The additional revenues will not go to saving parks on the closure list but will support services like park programs and keep restrooms open, Stearns says.
"It's a balancing act, and sometimes it's hard to do. But everybody knows what's happening to our budget. So we would just say to people, 'Be patient, be understanding, we're trying to make ends meet.'"
People bought 66,752 day-use passes last year, according to data from the state parks department. Park districts with easy coastal access sell many more passes; the Orange Coast District sold 26,883 passes last year. In Northern California, the Santa Cruz District sold 3,802 passes total, while Mendocino sold 21.