Commission seeks citizen input on state parks’ future

May 15, 2012

The agency responsible for Washington state parks is posing questions to citizens.

Should the state parks system operate more like a hospitality industry, a public conservation asset based mostly on grant and tax funding or a system of parks operating as community nonprofit entities? What do people enjoy about their park system? What improvements need to be made?

Citizens can offer answers to the questions as the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission starts a broad public outreach effort. The commission is seeking ideas through email, and in meetings with legislators, stakeholders and in public meetings.

Officials plan to use the input to create a transformation strategy to guide the park system through the next five years and beyond.

Participants at the public meetings can listen as parks staff members present a “state of state parks” report and ask for ideas and comments about three visions for the future. Participants at each meeting can discuss the themes and share ideas.

The meeting closest to Issaquah is scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m. June 6 at the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services office, 900 Oakdale Ave. S.W., Renton.

Find public comments, questions and suggestions received about the future of state parks at www.parks.wa.gov/Beyond2013 as the process proceeds.

Individuals, groups and organizations interested in joining the email list for updates regarding the planning process should email Strategic.Planning@parks.wa.gov.

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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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USA Today spotlights Issaquah Alps trails

February 28, 2012

Issaquah Alps peaks and trails garnered national attention Feb. 21 after USA Today featured the Eastside mountains in a travel piece.

The feature outlines trails and points of interest on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — including the long-defunct Nike Ajax missile installation on Cougar Mountain and the paraglider launch site on Tiger Mountain.

“Hiking through Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, on to Squak Mountain State Park Natural Area and into Tiger Mountain State Forest adds mileage but provides a scenic route,” the guide notes.

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USA Today spotlights Issaquah Alps hiking trails

February 22, 2012

NEW — 9 a.m. Feb. 22, 2012

Issaquah Alps peaks and trails garnered some national attention Tuesday after USA Today featured the Eastside mountains in a travel piece.

The piece outlines trails and points of interest on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — including the long-defunct Nike Ajax missile installation on Cougar Mountain and the paraglider launch site on Tiger Mountain.

“Hiking through Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, on to Squak Mountain State Park Natural Area and into Tiger Mountain State Forest adds mileage but provides a scenic route,” the guide notes.

The piece is the latest national recognition for the Issaquah Alps and the mountains’ namesake city.

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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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State parks prepare for possible $30 million budget gap

November 28, 2011

NEW — 9 a.m. Nov. 28, 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 Discover Pass is a vital funding source for state parks,” Commission Chairman Joe Taller said in a statement. “We are asking the public to support and protect state parks by purchasing the Discover Pass.”

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City, neighbors dedicate Squak Mountain forest to Maureen McCarry

November 15, 2011

Former councilwoman led effort to protect Squak Mountain woods

Maureen McCarry (right), a former councilwoman and Forest Rim resident, flashes a thumbs-up to city Parks Planner Margaret Macleod at the dedication ceremony for McCarry Woods on Nov. 12. By Warren Kagarise

The thicket — all gold and green beneath a November sky the same color as chalk — adjacent to the Forest Rim neighborhood on Squak Mountain shares the name of a person instrumental in protecting the land for future generations.

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Community dedicates Squak Mountain forest to Maureen McCarry

November 12, 2011

Former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry (right) greets a well-wisher at the dedication ceremony for Squak Mountain's McCarry Woods on Saturday. By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 1 p.m. Nov. 12, 2011

The thicket — all gold and green beneath a November sky the same color as chalk — adjacent to the Forest Rim neighborhood on Squak Mountain shares the name of a person instrumental in protecting the land for future generations.

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State nets almost $3 million from Discover Pass sales

October 25, 2011

Sales prompt backups, confusion at state park

The state-mandated Discover Pass generated $2.9 million for state parks and other public recreation lands since the state and retailers started offering the pass in June — crucial dollars for the cash-strapped agencies responsible for managing public lands.

Officials started requiring a $30 annual pass or a $10 day-use pass to park vehicles at recreation lands statewide July 1. The pass is mandatory for state parks, as well as lands managed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources.

State public lands agencies need to generate about $60 million per year in sales to compensate for deep budget cuts. The agencies split the revenue — 84 percent for state parks and 8 percent apiece for the others.

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City renames forestland for former councilwoman

August 30, 2011

City Council members recognized Maureen McCarry on Aug. 15 by renaming a forested tract on Squak Mountain for the former councilwoman.

The change renamed the 40-acre Issaquah 69 parcel as McCarry Woods. The designation recognizes McCarry’s efforts as a councilwoman to acquire and preserve a key wildlife habitat and trail access to Squak Mountain State Park.

“This is, in my mind, one of the highest honors I think that we can give to any individual who has contributed so much to this community,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said before the unanimous decision to rename the land.

The city acquired the land in August 2007 as part of the Cougar-Squak Mountains Wildlife Corridor project. The forested land is just east of Squak Mountain Loop Southwest in the Forest Rim neighborhood high on Squak Mountain. McCarry is a Forest Rim resident.

In addition to preserving wildlife habitat, the acquisition protected a piece of the Bullitt Fireplace Trail — a link to the state park from Mountainside Drive Southwest.

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