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No More Parking Fees At Parks In Connecticut — But DMV Will Cost $10 More

Numerous species of coastal birds call the salt marshes at Sherwood Island State Park home. Photo Credit: William Haffey
A fence around a sane dune at Sherwood Island State Park. Photo Credit: File
The evergreens near the coastline at Sherwood Island State Park are in sharp contrast to the bright sky, white snow and Sound waters. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Sherwood Island State Park, the oldest state park in Connecticut, is open year round. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
It will be free for Connecticut residents to park at Squantz Pond State Park next year. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Squantz Pond State Park Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Two fishermen at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

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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