Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission seeks winter sports enthusiast

July 24, 2012

The agency responsible for state parks needs a winter sports enthusiast to serve on the Washington State Winter Recreation Advisory Committee.

The position is for a nonmotorized recreationist, such as a cross-country skier, snowshoer, dog musher or skijorer from King County. Nominations must be received by July 31 and the appointment starts Oct. 1.

The committee reviews vital issues and advises the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission on program policy and funding priorities for snow removal, trail grooming, sanitation, education and enforcement.

The winter recreation program manages more than 3,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, 300 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and more than 120 Sno-Parks — plowed parking areas near snowmobile and cross-country ski trails.

Contact the program at winter@parks.wa.gov; P.O. Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650; or through the Washington Telecommunications Relay Service at 800-833-6388 toll free, to request applications and submit nominations. Call 360-902-8684 to learn more about the nomination process.

City, state join forces to improve Lake Sammamish State Park

July 3, 2012

Issaquah and the state parks agency have agreed to coordinate efforts to create a better future for cash-strapped Lake Sammamish State Park.

Hugo Valdivieso, a worker for Lake Sammamish State Park, mows the shoulder of Northwest Sammamish Road in front of the park main entrance May 12. By Greg Farrar

The city could someday shoulder some responsibilities to maintain the state park, but the initial agreement between Issaquah and the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission is light on specifics.

The pact approved by the City Council in a unanimous decision June 18 calls for the city and state parks agency to “explore opportunities to improve community use” of park facilities, seek out funding to improve the park and dedicate staffers to develop recommendations for the park.

The agreement, or memorandum of understanding, is in effect through June 2013. The council decision did not allocate any funding to the park project.

“I’m delighted to see this partnership that we’ve had with Lake Sammamish State Park over the years continue in a more formal way,” Councilman Fred Butler said before the decision.

The effort, spearheaded by councilwomen Eileen Barber and Stacy Goodman, stemmed from a 2011 council retreat to set goals for 2012.

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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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Offer input at public meeting about state parks’ future

May 29, 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.

Officials plan to use the input to create a strategy to guide the parks system.

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 visions for the future.

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.

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.

Governor vetoes state park facility, OKs hatchery dam

April 25, 2012

NEW — 9:45 p.m. April 25, 2012

Gov. Chris Gregoire eliminated $3.1 million for a proposed concession and event facility at Lake Sammamish State Park, but approved $4 million to replace a problem-plagued Issaquah Salmon Hatchery dam Tuesday.

Cheryl Pflug

The governor struck the state park facility from the supplemental budget before authorizing more than $1 billion in public works spending.

State Sen. Cheryl Pflug, a Maple Valley Republican and the representative for Issaquah, lambasted the decision to eliminate the state park project. Pflug joined other senators to pressure the governor to preserve funding for the facility.

“I challenged it myself, of course, but I also enlisted a team of Senate leaders — the Senate operating-budget and capital-budget leaders and the chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee,” Pflug said. “They quickly called the governor’s office and expressed their desire that the funding be preserved.”

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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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Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust earns honor for state park projects

March 27, 2012

The long-term effort to restore natural areas in Lake Sammamish State Park earned the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust recognition from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

The nonprofit organization formed to oversee the Mountains to Sound Greenway earned the Significant Volunteer Achievement honor in the Volunteer Recognition Awards announced March 26.

Through a longtime Adopt-a-Park agreement, the greenway trust developed a nursery to plant, water, weed and pot native plants for use along the greenbelt from Seattle to Ellensburg.

Greenway members potted trees and shrubs — 23,000 plants in all. The group involved local students and corporate groups in restoration and maintenance along Issaquah Creek and planted trees at the state park.

The greenway trust also improved the 12-mile Squak Mountain trail system. Members installed more than 65 trail signs, raised 800 feet of turnpike trail above wet areas, performed stabilization work on equestrian trails and installed 150 drain dips to keep water off trails.

Statewide, volunteers at state parks last year performed 271,260 hours of work — equal to 130 full-time employees.

Press Editorial

February 14, 2012

Heritage designation fits for greenway

It seems silly that different public land-use agencies cannot work together, but the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is trying to help resolve that problem.

Today, there are six major agencies that manage public lands with the 1.5 million acres known as the greenway. These include the U.S. Forest Service, City of Seattle Watershed, state Department of Natural Resources, Washington State Parks, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and King County.

The agencies should be able to intermingle land management. The benefit focuses on enforcement and environmental decisions. For example, one agency employee may not have the authority to stop hunters or timber cutting on public land. It also opens the doors to pilot projects that might be used elsewhere in the country.

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