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State Parks start charging again Friday

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Say goodbye to free access to the state’s parks.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) announced today that it will reinstate entry fees and park pass requirements at all Delaware State Parks and require a Conservation Access Pass to enter state wildlife areas starting Friday, May 8.

DNREC suspended entry fees, park passes and access passes on March 16 to encourage Delawareans to be active outdoors and to provide space for activity. State park entrance fees for vehicles registered in Delaware are $4 at inland parks and $5 at ocean parks. Fees for out-of-state vehicles are $8 at inland parks and $10 at ocean parks.

 

Entrance fees will remain in effect through Nov. 30, which is the normal fee season end date. 

The agency said that Delawareans receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits can receive an annual park pass at a discounted rate of $10, and those passes can be purchased online for those on unemployment as well as other state or federal assistance. DNREC says that 65 percent of its parks budget comes from visitors fees.

For the safety of the public and for employees, certain limitations and requirements will remain in place in parks, wildlife areas, fishing areas and boat ramps, including:

 

  • Entrance booths at parks will not be staffed, so visitors without a park annual pass will pay the daily fee via automated credit card machines or the self-registration envelopes at park entrances.
  • Bathrooms will remain closed or unavailable at parks, wildlife areas, fishing areas and boat ramps.
  • Beaches remain closed except for exercising, dog-walking and surf fishing under very limited conditions, per the Governor’s state of emergency orders.
  • Playgrounds, campgrounds and park offices continue to be closed and tours and other activities in parks will not yet resume.
  • Visitors to parks, wildlife areas, fishing areas and boat ramps must have masks with them, and must wear them when social distancing from others cannot be maintained.
  • The Governor’s requirement that out-of-state visitors must quarantine for 14 days upon entering Delaware before visiting parks, wildlife areas or other public spaces remains in effect.

 

Annual passes and surf fishing permits may currently only be purchased online, as all state park offices remain closed to the public, with annual passes for Delaware vehicles at $35 and for out-of-state vehicles at $70, with discounts for seniors, military and others. Those who purchase an annual pass before June 1 may place their receipt of purchase in the window of their vehicle to use state parks while waiting for the pass to arrive via mail. For information on pass and permit fees, go to www.destateparks.com/Know/PassesTagsFees, which includes a link to apply for the reduced cost Annual Pass Assistance Program for those on state and federal assistance, including unemployment.

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