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AGO 1950 No. 338 - September 25, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW STATE PARKS, AND TRANSFERS OF EXISTING STATE PARKS

(1) The State Parks & Recreation Commission has authority to establish new State parks without specific legislative authority on tracts acquired by donation or bequest, and on tracts which abut upon a public highway actually constructed, located or projected.  (2) The State Parks & Recreation Commission may not transfer existing State parks to other agencies without legislative approval, unless the State Parks Committee should find that the land on which the park is situated cannot advantageously be used for park purposes.  (3) Any money realized by the State from the Federal government as the result of condemnation of a State park, must be deposited in the State treasury to the credit of the State Parks and Parkway fund.

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                                                              September 25, 1950

Honorable Ole H. Olson
Box 222
Pasco, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 338

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of August 8, 1950, requesting our opinion as to the authority of the State Parks and Recreation Commission in connection with the establishment of new State parks, and the transfer of existing State parks.

            You are advised:

            (1) The State Parks and Recreation Commission has authority to establish new State parks without specific legislative authority on tracts acquired by donation or bequest, and on tracts which abut upon a public highway actually constructed, located, or projected.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            (2) The State Parks and Recreation Commission may not transfer existing State parks to other agencies without legislative approval, unless the State Parks Committee should find that the land on which the park is situated cannot advantageously be used for park purposes.

            (3) a. Any money realized by the State from the Federal government as the result of condemnation of a State park, must be deposited in the State treasury to the credit of the State Parks and Parkway fund.

            b. Such money may be used for any proper purpose on appropriation by the Legislature.

            c. The State may not exchange park property with the Federal government without specific legislative authority.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            1. Subdivision 7, section 10942, Rem. Rev. Stat., specifically provides that no land except such as may be acquired by donation or bequest, or as may abut on a public highway, shall be acquired for park purposes without specific authorization by the Legislature.

            2. The State Parks and Recreation Commission is the agency of the State authorized to establish and supervise State parks.  It may not delegate this duty to any other State agency, but may, if it should find that the land upon which any State park is presently situated cannot advantageously be used for park purposes, dispose of such lands under the authority of and in the manner directed by section 1, chapter 261, Laws of 1947, section 10951a Rem. Supp. 1947.  Examples of specific authority to exchange State parks will be found in chapter 111, Laws of 1939, sections 1 and 2, which are, respectively, sections 10951-1 and 10951-2, Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp., and section 1, chapter 237, Laws of 1947, which is section 10942-2, Rem. Supp. 1947.

            3. Legislative authority would be required to authorize State agencies to make an exchange with the Federal government if Federal agencies or officials were authorized to tender land in exchange.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            We believe it to be the policy of the Federal government to acquire such lands as it may need in condemnation proceedings, rather than by exchange, in which event the price to be received for State land being condemned will be fixed by the court, unless agreed upon by the State Parks and Recreation Commission, with the consent of this office and the officials representing the Federal government in the condemnation case.  Any money realized from the Federal government as consideration for lands upon which State parks are situated, or which are under jurisdiction of the State Parks and Recreation Commission, should be credited to the State Parks and Parkway fund and be subject to legislative appropriation.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

E. P. DONNELLY
Assistant Attorney General

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