WSU's Ruckelshaus Center trying to help make trail passes easier

Molly Stenovec with Washington State University's Ruckelshaus Center is helping the state make trail passes simpler. (Photo: KOMO News)

NORTH BEND, Wash. -- The Washington State University's Ruckelshaus Center is taking public opinion surveys on how to make trail passes in the state more accessible.

Molly Stenovec with the WSU center is tasked with finding out how to make the process simpler.

With more than 20 different trail passes in the state, Stenovec said hikers are frustrated with knowing what passes are needed where.

In 2016, the Washington state legislature passed a bill asking to, "analyze options and identify opportunities to increase efficiency, simplicity and equity in the recreation fee system, while also accounting for the fiscal health of land management agencies," Stenovec said.

Reducing the number of different trail passes is one possibility. Other options include administrative tweaks, better coordinating free entry days or including fees with car registration.

For Gary Cobb, picking a trial to hike is the easy part. It's figuring out what pass to use that is the challenge.

"When you've driven so far to get there and it (the trail head) says, 'oh, you must have this pass' ... what do I do now," Cobb said.

Cobb is not alone in feeling this way.

Jeremy Davis and Katherine Thompson are new to the area and said they love the trails but that it can be frustrating needing multiple passes for different trails.

"It's kind of aggravating to have to go to multiple places to get different passes for different places," Davis said. "Every time we go somewhere we have to check, 'do we have that pass.'"

The Ruckelshaus Center will be taking the public opinion surveys through popular groups such as the Washington Trails Association to best figure out how to simplify the pass process.

In December, they will report back to lawmakers with their findings.

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