Celebrate National Public Lands Day on Tiger Mountain

September 25, 2012

Washingtonians can celebrate National Public Lands Day in the Tiger Mountain State Forest, other state forestlands or at national parks.

The state Department of Natural Resources said the lineup for National Public Lands Day, Sept. 29, includes a mountain bike trail construction event on Tiger Mountain.

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Lake Sammamish State Park tour offers beginning birding

September 11, 2012

The red-breasted sapsucker is one of the birds seen in September on the monthly bird walk at Lake Sammamish State Park. By Mick Thompson

A free, guided walk at Lake Sammamish State Park on Sept. 19 will help visitors discover dozens of different kinds of birds in the diverse ecosystem found at the south end of the lake.

A typical walk in the park in September encounters about 50 different bird species, from various grebes on the lake to spotted sandpipers at creekside, from red-breasted sapsuckers and orange-crowned warblers in the woods to Savannah sparrows in the meadows.

Eastside Audubon guides Sharon Aagaard and Stan Wood lead a walk each month at Lake Sammamish State Park, always midweek during the quiet morning hours when birding is best. The Sept. 19 walk is from 8 a.m. to noon.

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Salmon fishing season opens on Lake Sammamish

August 14, 2012

The annual salmon fishing season will open in Lake Sammamish beginning Aug. 16.

Dallas Cross

There will be a daily limit of four salmon, of which an angler may retain up to two chinook or king salmon and complete the catch limit with other salmon species. Silver or coho salmon may be part of the catch. Sockeye salmon must be released so barbless hoods are required.

Of course, the smaller kokanee salmon are still illegal to have in one’s possession and must be released.

All fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek. You will find that area well-surrounded by a parade of trolling boats.

To park at the Lake Sammamish State Park boat launch you must have purchased a Washington State Discover Pass. If you launch your boat there, you will pay an additional $7 launching fee using the pay box at the ramp.

Because the feeding portion of these salmon’s lives is over, you either have to appeal to their instinct to bite what once was food, or trade on their aggressive nature. The former is touted by those who use bare, red, size 4/0 hooks trolled behind a Dodger flasher.

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Experience the journey, not the destination on May Valley trail to Central Peak hike

August 7, 2012

Out-of-place among the trees, this stone fireplace  is all that remains of the Bullitt family homestead. By Lillian Tucker

If it’s a few hours of fresh air free of people and noise pollution you want, but you aren’t willing to chug up the Interstate 90 corridor, then the May Valley Loop could be just the ticket.

“It’s really beautiful. I like that it’s not a crowded hike,” Debbie Simmons said.

She lives nearby in High Valley and often walks her Bernese mountain dog Rogue around the trail system of Squak Mountain, one of the lesser-visited triplets better known as the Issaquah Alps. “Rogue likes that it’s shaded most of the way.”

It doesn’t take long to reach the shade, where even on a hot day in mid-July the air along the trail is cool under the high-reaching big leaf maples. After parking at the Squak Mountain State Park entrance off Southeast May Valley Road, follow the only trailhead, which has a sign for Squak Mountain Trail.

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Washington state parks, national parks offer free entry for National Get Outdoors Day

June 7, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. June 7, 2012

Forget the Discover Pass.

Washington state parks, alongside national parks, offer free entry Saturday for National Get Outdoors Day, a chance to experience outdoor recreation areas at no cost.

So, visitors headed to Lake Sammamish and Squak Mountain state parks in the Issaquah area do not need a Discover Pass to enter. Similarly, the entrance fee to Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks — and all other national parks in Washington and from coast to coast — is waived.

Washington boasts more than 100 developed state parks, from majestic Deception Pass State Park to the old-growth forest of Lewis & Clark State Park.

The state also hosts 13 national park sites under National Park Service administration.

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Governor vetoes dollars for Lake Sammamish State Park

May 15, 2012

Cheryl Pflug

Questions about long-term funding for a proposed concession and event facility at Lake Sammamish State Park led Gov. Chris Gregoire to eliminate the $3.1 million legislators had set aside for construction.

The long-term plan for the state park included the concession and event facility as a supplement to the aging amenities at the lakeside destination. Officials questioned a plan from the cash-strapped state parks system to pay for the facility.

The governor struck the state park facility from the supplemental capital budget. The document authorized more than $1 billion in public works spending statewide, including a $4 million project to replace a problem-plagued Issaquah Salmon Hatchery dam.

Gregoire signed the supplemental capital budget April 24.

State Sen. Cheryl Pflug, a Maple Valley Republican and the representative for Issaquah, joined other senators to pressure the governor to preserve funding for the state park facility, but also raised questions about long-term funding.

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Users can transfer state recreation pass between vehicles

April 10, 2012

Users can transfer the Discover Pass for state parks and recreation lands between vehicles, under legislation Gov. Chris Gregoire signed March 30 — not long before Memorial Day launches the summer recreation season.

The change to the 1-year-old Discover Pass took effect immediately. The legislation allows users to transfer the annual pass between two vehicles at no additional cost.

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Users can transfer state recreation pass between vehicles

March 30, 2012

NEW — 4:30 p.m. March 30, 2012

Users can transfer the Discover Pass for state parks and recreation lands between vehicles, under legislation Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Friday.

Gov. Chris Gregoire

The change to the 1-year-old Discover Pass took effect immediately. The legislation allows users to transfer the annual pass between two vehicles at no additional cost.

State lawmakers acted after Discover Pass users complained about the inability to transfer the pass between vehicles.

“Customer survey results indicated that pass transferability between two vehicles could boost support for the Discover Pass,” State Parks Director Don Hoch said. “We are optimistic that the change will lead to greater public support and participation. We now depend on the Discover Pass to keep state parks and other state recreation lands open for public use and enjoyment.”

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State parks commission announces 2012 free days for visitors

January 10, 2012

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday three-day weekend Jan. 14-16 will be the first of 10 free days in 2012 when the Discover Pass will not be required of visitors venturing out to enjoy their state parks.

Most of the free days are in alignment with 2012 free days offered by the National Park Service, according to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

The “free days” are in keeping with legislation that created the Discover Pass, a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit required on state-managed recreation lands managed by Washington State Parks, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources.

The Discover Pass legislation provided that Washington State Parks could designate up to 12 free days when the pass would not be required to visit state parks. The free days only apply at state parks. A Discover Pass will still be required to access Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Natural Resources lands.

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State parks gird for possible $30 million budget gap

December 6, 2011

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission officials said the agency is prepared to change amid the prospect of a $30 million budget gap.

The state parks agency used to receive about 75 percent of operating funds from the state general fund, but in the last legislative session, lawmakers set aside $17 million in “bridge” funding to transition the agency off of general fund dollars. Legislators also implemented the Discover Pass, a parking fee for state parks and state-managed recreation lands.

The commission prepared a strategy to allow the agency to respond to a worst-case scenario if legislators cut the existing $17 million general fund dollars, or if Discover Pass and other revenues fall short. The strategy includes deep spending cuts, changes to service levels in the short term and re-engineering the agency for a leaner future.

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