Kansans who enjoy visiting the state parks can count on at least two annual rituals – renewing their vehicle registrations and buying their annual park permits. Currently, these tasks must be completed on separate occasions, at different buildings or online locations, and using separate transactions. That’s about to change, thanks to a partnership between the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) and the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR).
Beginning in 2013, Kansas motor vehicle owners will be able to buy an annual park vehicle permit as part of their vehicle registration process. The permit – called a Kansas State Parks Passport – will cost $15.00 (county treasurers can elect to add a $0.50 service fee). This lower-price, non-transferable permit will be available only during the vehicle registration process at a motor vehicle registration office, through the online vehicle registration site (www.kswebtags.org), or when registering by mail. The Kansas State Parks Passport will expire when the vehicle registration expires a year later.
During 2013, persons who would like to purchase an annual park permit before they register their vehicles can do so at any KDWPT office, KDWPT license vendor or through the KDWPT website, (www.ksoutdoors.com/License-Permits), and then request a pro-rated refund for the difference in cost. Refund forms will be available from KDWPT state park offices or through the KDWPT website at ksoutdoors.com. Only Kansas State Park Passports purchased between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013 will be eligible for refund.
Kansas residents (except seniors and persons with disabilities) and owners of vehicles not registered in Kansas who buy their park vehicle permits at a KDWPT office or vendor will have to pay the regular price for annual and daily permits. The regular annual park vehicle permit will cost $25.00, and the daily vehicle permit fee will be $5.00, including processing fees.
To save even more starting in 2013, residents 65 years of age or older or persons with disabilities who display a special license plate or placard issued pursuant to state law can buy a park vehicle permit directly from a KDWPT office or vendor. Including processing fees, the cost will be $13.75 for annual vehicle park permits or $3.25 for regular daily permits. These lower-priced permits will not be available as part of the vehicle registration process.
KDWPT pushed for the new passport in the 2012 legislative session. Kansas state parks receive modest funding from the state general fund but the amount has dwindled in recent years, resulting in significant challenges for park operations and maintenance.
Robin Jennison, KDWPT Secretary, explained that the agency is striving to be less reliant on state general funds. “The new annual permit will provide a lower cost way for families and young people to visit our state parks. It also will help expand our customer base, and provide a more reliable, consistent revenue stream to stabilize the funding pool so we can more effectively operate our state parks. We deeply appreciate the help of the Department of Revenue to make this happen,” he said.
Linda Craghead, Assistant Secretary for Parks and Tourism, added, “The Kansas State Parks Passport will make it more convenient and affordable for Kansans to enjoy our 25 state parks. It will be a great way for families to reconnect with nature and each other, and help preserve the parks for future generations. Families can enjoy a whole year of adventure and outdoor activities for less than the cost of treating the family to a night at the movies.”
“We are pleased to partner with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to offer this customer service feature which will make it easier for all Kansans to visit our state parks,” said KDOR Vehicles Director Donna Shelite.
Information about the new Kansas State Parks Passport will be included in the registration renewal notice sent to vehicle owners each year.
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism