Panel OKs bill to let seniors buy lifetime parks passes

Senior citizens got one step closer Wednesday to being able to purchase a lifetime state parks pass similar to one they already can get from the federal government.

A measure that would allow Coloradans 64 and older to purchase a state Aspen Leaf pass cleared the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee on a unanimous vote.

“We want to encourage seniors to use state parks and not just national parks,” said Rep. Jim Riesberg, D-Greeley, the House sponsor of Senate Bill 71. “In Colorado, we have 42 state parks and a survey that was taken shows that those people who visit state parks spend an average of $396 million a year within a 50-mile vicinity around those parks when they make those visits.”

Currently, seniors can get a 50 percent discount on the $60 annual state park pass, but under the bill they could buy one for $150 that would last the rest of their lives. At the same time, the state could earn an additional $400,000 a year from pass sales for the next three years.

The federal pass costs $10, but is limited to entrance fees and doesn’t include all parks.

The bill, which heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee, calls for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to review how sales go over the next three years to determine if it’s costing the state too much to continue. If so, the Legislature will reconsider the idea, but those who purchased the lifetime pass during that time would still be able to use it.


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