New Jersey parks will be free starting this weekend and through the rest of the year, the Murphy administration announced Thursday.
Entrance fees at more than 50 of the state’s parks, forests and recreation areas will be waived for all visitors, whether they live here or not. Anyone who’s already purchased an annual state park pass will get an automatic refund, Gov. Phil Murphy’s office said.
“From High Point State Park in Sussex County to Cape May Point State Park in Cape May County, the state park system provides endless opportunities for recreation — from swimming, hiking and kayaking, to picnicking, exploring nature and experiencing our rich history,” Shawn LaTourette, the Department of Environmental Protection commissioner, said in a statement.
“Whatever your passion or interest, there is a state park in New Jersey for you,” he said.
More:Murphy pitches ‘one-year fee holiday.’ Here are the payments that would be waived
Other park fees will still apply, including for things like camping, interpretive programs and mobile sport fishing permits, the administration said.
The fee waiver is part of Murphy’s $49 billion budget proposal for the 2023 fiscal year that begins July 1. That spending plan, which hasn’t been approved, earmarks $60 million for various fee “holidays” that includes covering park costs but also marriage licenses and driver’s license renewals.
Eliminating payment for the more than 260,000 expected entries into state parks would have a revenue impact of $2.7 million, the Treasury Department has said.
This Memorial Day weekend, when the fees are lifted, marks the state’s unofficial start of the summer season that is crucial to its tourism industry.
A list of state parks can be found at https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/parkindex.html.
Dustin Racioppi is a reporter in the New Jersey Statehouse. For unlimited access to his work covering New Jersey’s governor and political power structure, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.