Washington State Parks Foundation
WSPF Newsletter
  In this Newsletter: What’s your favorite State Park, Networking Nature, Friends of Lime Kiln... Stepping up to save San Juan Parks, Girl Scout Cookie Sale & State Parks, Arts in the Park in 2011  
A Message from the Chairman
 

Peter ReidDear Friends of State Parks,

Washington State Parks turned 99 on March 12, 2012. That birthday will begin a year of celebration in the run up to the 100th anniversary on March 12, 2013. During the year many of your local parks will hold events to celebrate this great success story. In addition, the Washington State Parks Foundation and the State Parks Commission will celebrate with several events of statewide significance. Our State Parks System is actually older than the Federal Park Service.

Each year more than 40 million visitors come to our glorious parks, many from out of state. These visitors represent an enormous economic force by spending money locally as part of their parks experience. It is estimated that visits to Washington state parks yield a total annual direct contribution of $1.1 billion and generate more than $34 million in state tax receipts. We hope many of you will join with the Washington State Parks Foundation in raising funds to ensure that our parks are at their best for the 100th birthday.

Please give generously by making a secure donation through our website. If you would like to make a substantial gift to sponsor one of the 100th anniversary events or to focus on a particular park, please contact our Executive Director, John Floberg at john@wspf.org .

The State Legislature has been active this year seeking ways to increase funding for State Parks. A bill with many co-sponsors was introduced to permit the transfer of the Discover Pass between two cars, replacing the current system, which requires that a separate Pass be obtained for each car. It is predicted that the change will result in substantially more passes sold. The bill also contains provision for a family pass which will allow any member of the family to visit a park and will sell for up to $50.

As many of you know, sales of the Pass have been far below predictions, and since revenue from such sales is now the primary funder of Parks, many employees have been laid off and park activities curtailed. Parks supporters had hoped that the bill would be passed and signed during the special legislative session in December or at least early in the New Year, which would allow Parks to implement it immediately and begin increasing sales. The bill has now been passed by the legislature and sent to the Governor for signature. Because the bill contains an emergency clause it will become effective upon the Governor’s signature.

The legislature is also considering proposals to help lower the Parks budget gap by providing additional state funding, at least for the short term. One plan will transfer $4.5 million from the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account to Parks. Other proposals include directing that Discover Pass fines go to Parks rather than to the local jurisdiction and that a portion of Lodging Tax revenue be directed to Parks. Be sure to visit our website to find out if, and when, these proposals are passed.

These are difficult times for those of us who love our glorious parks. We hope many of you will want to join in the celebrations, either by making donations or by volunteering at your local park.

With warm regards,


Peter Reid, Chair
Washington State Parks Foundation

 
What is your favorite state park?
 

So, What’s your Favorite Park? We’ve been asking this question for quite a while, and the answers confirm that we have a world class park system … exemplary beaches, forests, lakes and shorelines. We all have a favorite and with more than 119 across the state, there is a park just for you. In fact, the survey is the most visited page on our website at: http://washingtonstateparksfoundation.org/state-parks-survey.

What is reassuring is that nearly every State Parks has a fan and has been mentioned; and the most popular, Deception Pass and Cape Disappointment, are mentioned by no more than 6% of those taking our survey. Recently,

  DP from Seattle wrote that she loves Lime Kiln. “Where else can you see whales so close? I love the information center, where I am able to show my daughter the sightings of pods and she can feel some of the shell formations. We were able to tour the lighthouse a few years ago - how interesting! Lime Kiln Park is a "must see" on each of our trips to San Juan Island. We were so disappointed to discover parking now had a price as well as the visitor's center was closed indefinitely on our last trip. There was only one other car there, when typically the lot is packed. It is shameful that the budget has been slashed on such a treasure, a place unlike anywhere else in the USA.”

TM from Spokane loves Riverside State Park. He writes, “Barely eleven minutes from town, with hiking trails that will convince you that you're miles from civilization. Paddling, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, camping … this park has lots of things to do. And the experience totally changes in winter. Hiking trails become cross-country skiing trails, osprey that we watch in summer become eagles to watch in the winter. It's just incredible having this park so close to town!.”
 

So tell us What’s your Favorite State Park and make a promise to explore a new park this spring.

Go to: http://washingtonstateparksfoundation.org/state-parks-survey

 
Networking Nature
 

The Virtual Ranger: A Case for Support
By John Floberg, Executive Director
Washington State Parks Foundation

The unprecedented state parks budget crisis demands rethinking everything we do, including questioning assumptions about the use of technology and the virtual world in relation to improving the parks experience. While nature purists in the past may have had the luxury to speculate on the importance of maintaining a hard separation between experiencing nature and various digital screens - like the computer, tablet and smart phone, a new realization is that if parks aren’t well connected and accessible, they can lose visitation and use in a media-centric world. The new imperative is simply to reach users on their own terms.

Increasingly this means reaching and connecting online. Trends leading in this direction include increasing urbanization as well as the fact that devices for interacting are becoming lighter, mobile and more powerful. Indeed, the value of the virtual now goes way beyond merely connecting people with nature and with each other; a compelling online presence serves as a platform to introduce any number of new initiatives to help parks achieve its long-held goal of sustainability, so parks serve not just this but all future generations.

Moving us closer to this hyper-connected parks experience is a new initiative led by the Washington State Parks Foundation and referred to as the Virtual Ranger. Virtual Ranger is a technology-based approach to better connecting the public, as well as donors, volunteers, and sponsors with the excitement and outstanding experiences available at Washington State Parks. Virtual Ranger uses mobile and internet platforms to provide prospective park visitors an in-depth look at the amenities and historical significance of each of the state parks. Equally important, Virtual Ranger represents a way for the public to interact with Washington State Parks and communities surrounding them and to share experiences, plan trips, and learn from others through the technology they use the most.

Virtual Ranger offers a means to integrate sites and applications like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr as well as a personalized “My Parks” digital domain for ease of use. Driving directions, trail maps, user experiences, photos, and specific site descriptions and histories can be printed in advance, or downloaded to a mobile device from the comfort of home or, where available, on location. Users can even personalize their experience and upload photos and comments.

With the Parks system at a crossroads, Virtual Ranger will address three primary challenges. First, Washington State Parks are transforming to be largely supported through user fees. Especially given uncertain revenue forecasts for Discover Pass sales, the primary source of funding for state parks, new and innovative means are needed to attract new visitors and cultivate ongoing user relationships. With web and mobile devices now as fixtures to daily life, this makes parks more relevant and likely to be supported. Second, park interpretive services are fundamental to a deeper, more enjoyable user experience, but exhibits are expensive to design and build, limited in how much information can be shared, damaged by weather and time and quickly outdated. Virtual Ranger has the potential for cost-effective and dynamically updatable material that can be shared more widely and with more diverse audiences. Third, research shows people derive great physical and mental benefits from getting outdoors, yet outdoor use, particularly among young people, is declining. Virtual Ranger is an excellent way to reach this target group to help influence them to seek state park experiences.

Virtual Ranger is an important new step at the heart of the state parks transformation. It is part of a major new marketing initiative for parks, including deeper and more extensive interpretive services, a new social media platform for a true user focus, and a greatly enhanced reservations and trip planning system. Already many of you have viewed the demo (click here) and either been interviewed for this effort or have completed an online survey to help us assess its value. Thank you for your help! As a result this month, the Foundation is completing a feasibility study with the Collins Group to find out what may be needed to make it happen. In the meantime, don’t forget the real reason for networking nature through Virtual Ranger is to get you out to state parks! Our magnificent parks are just waiting to show you that the best experiences in life are the real ones.

See you in the parks.

John Floberg, Executive Director
Washington State Parks Foundation
 
Friends of Lime Kiln
  Friends of Lime Kiln Society (aka FOLKS) was founded in 2011 to help offset the financial shortfall that Lime Kiln Point State Park suffered in recent budget cuts. Our acronym, FOLKS, sums up who we are -- a group of San Juan Island residents interested in supporting the operations of Lime Kiln with special emphasis on maintaining a robust interpretive program.



Lime Kiln's unique location, diverse habitat, wildlife and cultural history, makes it a microcosm of the Salish Sea ecosystem. The park serves as a wonderful environmental classroom to more than 200,000 visitors from 40 countries annually. FOLKS plans to include stewardship messages in every aspect of our activities be it through the Parks Interpretive Center and its gift shop, volunteer training classes, park and tidal tours as well as community outreach programs and special events. Though FOLKS is in the midst of preparing for our first season, most of us are veteran interpretive volunteers and are incredibly dedicated to seeing our famed "Whale Watch Park" thrive!

FOLKS is one of the newest Friends groupsformed in order to be a part of the solution in these challenging times. In collaboration with the Washington State Parks Foundation as our fiscal sponsor, we are working together with the State Parks Commission to build new paradigms between the private and public sectors for all Friends groups to come. It’s an exciting experiment that we all recognize must happen to insure the future sustainability of the Parks we have all come to love and cherish.

Come join the fun!
www.friendsoflimekilnsociety.org

Cheers,

Erin Corra
Founder/Executive Director
FOLKS -Friends Of Lime Kiln Society
San Juan Island, WA
 
Tool Girls
 
 

The Girl Scout Cookie Sale is here! Girl Scouts will be selling cookies to the public March 2-18. To find a location near you, visit http://cookielocator.littlebrownie.com.

When you visit Saltwater State Park, take a good look at the picnic tables and the structure that surrounds the recycle and garbage containers. Chances are, you’ll see a metal plate telling you that Girl Scouts built and donated these to the park. Building a gift for the park has been an annual tradition of the Sound View Girl Scout Day Camp for quite a while: the volunteer-led camp has been meeting at Saltwater for 40 years!

Every summer, Girl Scouts make new friends, learn new skills and connect with nature in some of our most beautiful settings – thanks to Washington State Parks. In 2012, Girl Scouts of Western Washington will hold six day camps at Penrose Point, Saltwater, Manchester, Kitsap Memorial, Millersylvania, and Fort Casey State Parks.

State Parks staff collaborate with Girl Scout volunteers to create exciting environmental education experiences and expose girls to outdoor recreation opportunities. Girls come back year after year to “their” park, first as campers, as teen program aides and eventually as adult volunteers. They observe changes over time – the eroding bluff, new infrastructure, the favorite tree that grows wider and taller as the years pass.

In addition to our day camps, girls visit our state parks for day experiences and campouts. Our own camp properties are often at capacity during the spring and summer, so our state park campgrounds provide safe, clean and well-maintained camping facilities for troops that love to camp. The ability to make online reservations, reasonable prices, knowing what to expect at a state park campground, and the beautiful settings make visiting our state parks a satisfying event for girls and adult volunteers. Group camps sites offer the opportunity to host a gathering of several troops with a greater level of privacy.

Girl Scouts and Washington State Parks have worked together to raise generations of outdoor enthusiasts, committed to protecting our wild places, and the tamer places close to home!

 
Arts in the Park in 2011
  Los Bailadores del Sol, a traditional Mexican-American dance troupe from the Yakima Valley performing during a recent festival.


Folk Arts Program wraps up seventh season

The Washington State Parks Foundation funded the Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks Program during the past year. The Program has drawn tens of thousands of visitors to state parks during the past several seasons. Crowds have enjoyed a variety of cultural programs, from Latino, Asian, African and Middle Eastern cultural festivals to cowboy poetry, bluegrass and American Roots music concerts. The Cambodian Cultural Celebration at Millersylvania Park was featured in the Olympian newspaper which enthusiastically observed that the Celebration included music and dance performances by Cambodian groups from Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and Yelm as well as crafts, historical information and Cambodian food.

The Folk and Traditional Arts Program is planning another season for 2012. The schedule is still taking shape, but among the programs planned are the Salish Sea Native American Culture Day with the Samish & Swinomish Tribes at Deception Pass's Bowman Bay Area, another Peace Arch International Concert Series the four Sundays in August and an evening of Native American storytelling from the Chehalis and Cowlitz traditions by Curtis Dupuis.



Pictured above: A cappella gospel quartet, A Moment In Time, closes the season at Pearrygin Lake State Park’s Celebrating Cultures event, Sept. 18.
 
More Information
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© 2011 Washington State Parks Foundation
P.O. Box 891, Olympia, WA 98507-0891