Paying it forward for our managed lands

Way back in the day, it was pretty easy.  

With your fishing license in hand, you’d head out, park anywhere you wanted, and recreate on public lands that, for the most part, were free of fees and access restrictions.  

Unfortunately, all of us and the other thousands of people who visit Oregon each year were just loving some of our most fragile resources to near death.

In a county that reaches from the crest of the Cascade Mountains to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, with multiple agencies responsible for protecting each individual resource, the general wear and tear, impacts to our environment and how to fund the maintenance has always been a concern.

At times, it was difficult to determine which government agency was responsible for servicing the boat landing, parking lot, restrooms, and trash collection at local recreation sites. But over the years, the multiple agencies have fortunately evolved, and have refined their operations. Today, all the agencies responsible for our open spaces have imposed a “user fee,” established day-use parking fees to help maintain the quality of its sites. 

In fact, the fees are now integral to the entire outdoor experience that we all have come to expect.  Some call it “pay to play” but the reality of user fees is “paying it forward.” 

In Lane County, there are agencies of the federal government, the state of Oregon and the County of Lane itself that all provide services, covering the gamut of local outdoor recreation. 

Relative to the other managing agencies, the actual holdings of the Lane County Parks is rather minuscule in comparison to the lands managed by the Federal government in our county. But Lane County operates far more individual facilities — at more than 70 locations. Partially funded by parking fees, sites include boat landings on lakes and rivers, several wonderful campgrounds, and dozens of parks both large and small across the county.  

I have to mention, while many Lane County parks provide access to state owned waterways, the Lane County Park Pass is a “parking pass” and not a “user fee,”  so you can still use the boat landings located in the parks to launch your boat onto a state waterway. Without the pass you need to find parking outside of the park’s perimeter. 

In my opinion, given the number of options available to the public, your Lane County Park Pass at $40 per year (half price for seniors), represents one of the best returns of your recreational dollars you will find anywhere else in the state.  A Lane County park pass can be purchased online at LaneCounty.org/Parks or at any number of retailers also listed on the website. 

Frank Armendariz is the outdoors columnist for The Chronicle. He wrote this for The Chronicle. 

You can reach him at [email protected]



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