State to raise fees this summer at DCR facilities

DCR expected to raise a total of $25-million in revenue

BEVERLY, Mass. (WWLP) – The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has announced an increase in fees for state parks and beaches this summer.

The plan is to hike fees for out-of-state residents and initiate fee hikes on state residents approved over two years ago by the outgoing Deval Patrick administration. The department is also seeking to make more money from permits issued for use of state parkland.

DCR Commissioner Leo Roy spoke before state legislators at a hearing hosted by the House and Senate Ways and Means committees in Beverly on Tuesday. He said that the fee hikes will help the agency increase its retained revenue to an estimated $20 million in fiscal 2018, up $2.3 million over the amount expected in the fiscal 2017 budget.

According to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton, DCR is allowed to keep 80-percent of the revenue it raises and is expected to take in a total of $25 million, including $5 million for the General Fund.

Some of the legislators and environmental groups expressed concern about reduced staffing and closures of some facilities as well as the effect of increased fees for families who look to the state’s parks and beaches for affordable recreation.

Beaton said the state is looking for “innovative ways” to increase access to parks and the outdoors. “We’ve opened up parks, like Massasoit Park and parks that have had their doors shut for a long time,” Beaton said.