Please Support LB 362

It is possible that as early as Monday, April 8, the Nebraska Legislature will consider LB362, which replaces the annual $25 Nebraska State Park Permit with a $7 fee on motor vehicle registrations. In my opinion, THIS IS GREAT NEWS for Nebraska's public lands and tourism industry. Please study the photos below for the details of LB362, what it does and doesn't do, exemptions, etc.

Here is the text of an email I just sent off to my own Nebraska Senator, Tom Hansen:
Dear Senator Hansen;

I am strongly in favor of LB362 which replaces the $25 annual park permit with a $7 fee on vehicle registration. I believe that not only will this change result in a vitally needed increase in funding for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, but will also result in more families being able to access the very affordable recreational opportunities provided by our Nebraska State Park system.

As a member of a blue-collar working family in western Nebraska, I am aware of many, many families in our own home town of Sutherland who don’t even go out to the Sutherland Reservoir because they can’t afford the $25 annual park permit. A small $7 fee when they register their vehicles would eliminate this roadblock and strengthen families as they are able to share this great recreation area together and provide much needed affordable entertainment.

As you know, only 3% of Nebraska lands are publicly owned, most managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. This extremely small number of acres makes it even more vital that the NGPC receive as much funding as possible to ensure that these public lands are the best they can be for Nebraska residents and to attract out of town visitors. Currently, much of the budget and staffing of the NGPC is tied up in selling and enforcing the park permit system. Not only would this new system eliminate those resource drains, but would double the current budget. Many of our public properties managed by NGPC, including North Platte’s own Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park are in dire need of repair and maintenance that has long been deferred due to a shortage of funds.

It would also change the climate at our state parks from one of chasing down park permit offenders to one of welcoming visitors.

I urge you to vote in favor of LB362 and work to ensure its passage.

Sincerely, Muriel Clark
I know that not everyone agrees with me, but I hope that my Nebraska readers will support LB362 and contact your Senators TODAY to voice that support! If you want to send a message of support, you can find your Senator's email here:



  1. Is this an optional fee for those who want to pay it or is it a tax on everyone who registers a vehicle? If it's a tax, I think everyone needs to know it's a tax. For those who use the parks regularly, $25 for an annual permit is a steal. For a lot of people that's a $1 each visit 25x, then after that they aren't paying a dime! I feel bad for those who can't afford it, but a lot of us can't afford to do the things we want to do. G&P having to raise revenue in this fashion tells me one of two things: one, they own way too much parkland than they can afford to manage and two, the laws of supply and demand are at play...too much supply and not enough demand.

  2. I do not think this is an "optional" fee, except for the exemptions which are listed in the second photograph, including veterans, handicapped, antique, farm trucks, etc. So, call it what you will, fee or tax, under this bill, it will be a requirement. I too agree that the $25 park permit is affordable, but according to polls done by the Game and Parks, the majority of Nebraskans feel it is unacceptably high.

    Nebraska is such a wonderfully diverse and beautiful state, I am in favor of anything that helps our own residents get out and discover the great outdoors. The 3% of public lands in Nebraska is one of the lowest in the nation. We all know how much it costs to maintain and repair our own homes and lawns, so I think it is understandable that the NGPC needs an increased budget - not to mention that they are charged with managing all wildlife and enforcing hunting and fishing laws. Plus, they have all of our State Historical Parks, which by their very nature, have significant repair and maintenance demands to preserve our heritage.

    LB 362 solves both problems - it makes enjoying the great outdoors more affordable and increases the budget of NGPC to make the great outdoors more enjoyable.

  3. Did G&P look at the specialty tags as a source of revenue? It sort of blends the intent but doesn't force a tax on those who don't use the parks at all or not regularly. Use specialty plates/tags for the diehard park users and lower the daily rate for those users. Even a weekend pass. I think if the Omaha and Lincoln crowds weren't already paying an arm and a leg in their car tag fees it might be more palatable. I'd be okay with a $1 tax, but $7 is too high. I still think there's too much park for G&P to handle and too many outdoor rec opportunities per capita that compete with each other for users. Focus on those that could be improved and are most important to provide variety and access, build on those before expanding to meet the increased demand. Government needs to pay better attention to the market. Parks are no different than a business providing a good or service to its customers. The only difference is that government forces what it wants on the consumer, often at the expense of other things. I think most people want freedom of choice and resent having things forced on them by the gov't.

  4. You raise good points. The NGPC can't set its own sources of revenue. That has to be done on their behalf by the Legislature. This bill is an attempt to do that. LB 362 will possibly be debated on the floor as early as Monday April 8. It will be interesting what amendments are added and how it is changed. I believe one proposal lowers the fee to $5, which, according to polls is more acceptable to Nebraskans than the $7.

    Parks - or, in this case, public lands in the form of Wildlife Management Areas, State Recreation Areas, State Parks and State Historical Parks - are different from businesses. They get no (or very little) revenue from visitors who utilize their resources. They are preserving the resources on behalf of all Nebraskans, whether at a particular point in our lives we may or may not appreciate them or utilize them. I know for myself, there were many years when I didn't understand the importance of our public lands, but now that I see what a valuable asset they are, I'm glad the NGPC was around and putting money into their repair and maintenance.

    Someone who today may not utilize the public lands listed above may in a year or so become an avid user. A lack of investment today may mean that the facilities have deteriorated and the services cut back so they aren't available for their enjoyment. With only 3% of public land in Nebraska, there certainly isn't too much public land per capita. We simply need to campaign to get people out using them, and give the NGPC the resources to preserve and develop them into the best possible, most popular uses.

  5. This is wonderful! I love this. Seems like such a smart and practical move!


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