California implements lands pass for Hope Valley
Visitors recreating around Picketts Junction in Hope Valley are now required to purchase a pass from the State of California.
On Jan. 1, the California Department of Fish and Game implemented the $4.32 a day or $24.33 a year pass to raise money to support state lands.
While the law has been in place since 1988, it wasn’t until August 2016 that the California Fish and Game Commission voted to add 37 state properties, including Hope Valley.
At a presentation on Dec. 5, Alpine County supervisors expressed surprise at the implementation of the fee for the Hope Valley and Red Lake wildlife areas.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Land Acquisition Coordinator Julie Horenstein said the largest source of funding are hunting and fishing licenses and federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.
“Most of our funding sources are declining,” she said. “This has been going on for 20 years or more.”
The state is requiring the department to collect more in user fees, she said.
Each visitor must carry a valid lands pass or a valid hunting or fishing license, Horenstein said.
School and organized youth groups are exempt, as are volunteers. A pass is good on any of the four-dozen properties in California. The 247 wildlife areas and ecological reserves occupy 967,000 acres in the Golden State.
People with a hunting or fishing license won’t have to pay, she said because they’ve already contributed.
“The legislation was drafted by the hunting community,” she said. “It has long been a thorn in their side that hunters and anglers pay fees to maintain these properties, and they want other types of users to pay.”
Supervisor Don Jardine pointed out that many people access Forest Service lands through California state lands.
“The regulations don’t go into that level of detail,” Horenstein said. “I expect people will treat it the way they treat where to park or how long to park. If people know they are only going to be there for 30 minutes it will be up to them to decide whether to participate or not participate.”
She said that during the first year, law enforcement will likely warn those who aren’t carrying a pass on the first contact.
“Frankly, this is mostly on the honor system, especially in this first year,” she said.
Visitors may purchase the passes from the state web site at http://www.wildlifelicense.com/internet
Horenstein suggested residents purchase their passes in advance, as cell phone coverage is spotty in Hope Valley. She said the Markleeville General Store may also have them available.