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RP_Emerald_Bay_TAHOE_TOUR_BOAT.JPGNo, it's not called a California state "park" because cars get stuck in line at admission kiosks.

But park officials plan to speed up and simplify the entrance process, nonetheless, by installing equipment that will allow visitors to pay fees with the flick of a wrist, using ATM or credit cards. Legislation provided $750,000 to modernize the system in hopes of increasing revenue.

No longer would the emphasis be on asking visitors to pay with cash or check - and no longer would entrants have to drive up to an employee at a kiosk, spokesman Roy Stearns said.

Plans call for the automation to be installed soon at about a dozen locations, including Emerald Bay State Park at Lake Tahoe, Point Mugu in the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area near Pacheco Pass. The machines are equipped with encryption devices to deter ID theft, Stearns said.

The equipment will allow park visitors to pay for admission for an hour or two, perhaps a morning, not necessarily a whole day, Stearns said.

"Visitors can choose the payment and more closely tailor the hours of their visit to what they want," Stearns said.

Which could spice up lunch hours considerably, perhaps.

PHOTO: A tour boat circles around Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe. Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee file, 2005



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