The good news: Starting on Jan. 1, it will be free for Connecticut residents to park at all state parks, including at the beaches at Sherwood Island and Squantz Pond.
The bad news: Residents will pay a new $10 flat tax every two years when renewing their motor vehicle registrations with the DMV in Connecticut.
A parking fee of $9 had been required at many of the state parks, with a $13 fee at the shoreline and beach parks.
The funding change — called Passport to the Parks — was approved by the General Assembly as part of the recent budget vote.
The dedicated funds will be used to operate, maintain, and enhance the State Parks, said Eric Hammerling, executive director of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association.
He said the funding plan makes state parks "more sustainable — no longer totally reliant on the General Fund — and more people will get to enjoy parks and campgrounds."
This will add $13.9 million in new revenue for Fiscal Year 2019 for the Passport to the Parks fund, Hammerling said. This dedicated, non-lapsing fund will have "better protection against sweeps or diversions."
It may also result in increased visits to state parks, he said.
"This new, more sustainable funding source for your State Parks is essential to provide a solid foundation for the future of your State Parks and campgrounds," Hammerling said. "Getting the 'Passport to the Parks' is fantastic news in a very tough budget environment."
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