Speak Up for State Parks on their 100th Birthday
Washington State Parks turn 100 this year, and they're showing their age. But you can help them.
Starting to see the impact of cuts
The legislature has cut general funding for State Parks by 79 million dollars since 2007. These devastating cuts have resulted in seasonal closures, reduced services and deferred maintenance. If we don't reverse this trend, we could see some of the crown jewels of our park system closed due to concerns for public safety and the environment.
This week, The Seattle Times released an informative article highlighting some of the problems facing our park system:
"Since 2000, the state has shed 12 of its parks, reduced hours at others, and shifted 66 of its 189 full-time rangers to seasonal jobs. Starting in 2009, the state parks have reduced staffing from 595 full-time permanent employees to 395."
"The situation has gotten so bad that Gov. Jay Inslee and key state lawmakers say they are considering restoring some state tax dollars to fund the parks."
Hikers and campers have likely already seen some of the effects in their favorite parks. The article details a few examples:
"At Lake Wenatchee State Park, storm damage downed so many trees that more than half of the campsites are unusable, with the recreation season fast approaching. Cleanup is slower, with fewer year-round staff to tackle the mess."
"Meanwhile, all over the state, portions of trails, scenic overlooks and campgrounds are cordoned off because there is no money to repair or maintain them."
The legislature is currently developing their 2013-2015 budget, so this is the time to speak up for parks.
How to help state parks
Call your state senator and tell him or her that we need to reinvest in our state parks. Share your experience enjoying these special places and urge the legislature to support $27 million in general funding for State Parks.
Here are some tips for calling elected officials:
- Call the legislative hotline: 1.800.562.6000 and ask for your senator's office.
- Identify yourself (tell them if you are a constituent) and why you are calling: "I believe that Washington needs a budget that invests in our state parks. Please support $27 million in General Fund appropriations for Parks."
- Keep your call short and courteous.
- Remember to thank the staff member for his or her time.
Thank you for speaking out for trails!