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!
Washington Trails Association is always working to make the voice of hikers heard. Whether we are talking to Senators in Washington D.C. about the Forest Service's budget, to state legislators about the importance of keeping our public lands open or to local forest rangers about which trails hikers want to see better maintained—we are working for you.
We also try to connect you with direct ways to speak up. Here are three upcoming ways to make your voice heard right now:
November 14 - Mapping how visitors value the Olympic Peninsula
7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the Mountaineers Program Center, Goodman B
7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115
Bring your personal stories and thoughts about the places you love on the Olympic Peninsula. Using a process known as Human Ecology Mapping, the Mountaineers will be gathering information to help the Forest Service identify areas of high value and intense use for future land management and planning activities on the Olympic Peninsula.
November 19 Mount St. Helens Community Meeting
5 p.m. - 7 p.m. at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Headquarters
10600 NE 51 Circle Vancouver, WA 98682
The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, is holding a public meeting to outline the progress that the Forest and its partners have made implementing the Monument’s Strategic Investment Plan. Leaders from surrounding counties, the Mount St. Helens Institute, the Cowlitz Economic Development Council, and other partners will share their progress. After the presentations, participants will break into small groups to provide input into a variety of stakeholder issues and opportunities at the Monument.
November to January - Online public meetings ask you questions about the future of outdoor recreation in Washington
The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) is hosting online meetings as part of its revision to the state’s strategic plan for outdoor recreation. The forum will ask the public a series of questions, and you can participate at any time of day.
>>New questions will be added regularly, so make sure you bookmark this page.
>> Interested in discovering more ways to get involved? Make sure you sign up for WTA’s Trail Action Network so all the last advocacy information is sent directly to your email box.
Did you take some great photos this summer?
Now it is time to choose your favorites and enter them in WTA's Northwest Exposure photo contest.
Need help deciding which of your many pictures has that little something extra to catch the judges' eyes? Here are some great tips from the latest issue of Washington Trails magazine to help you zoom in on that winning shot.
Selecting the best photos for the contest
You don't have to be a professional photographer to take an award-winning photograph. But you do need a few things going for you, such as:
- A strong composition. Really think about the composition of your shot. Less is more. Draw the viewer into one element of the scene. Don't be afraid to crop your original photo.
- Good lighting. Look for photos taken in that "golden hour" near sunrise and sunset. Avoid dark photos and photos that are washed out by the midday sun.
- Good focus. Make sure to zoom into your photos to ensure that they are in crisp focus. A tripod makes a world of difference when you are trying to achieve clarity.
Selecting the best category for your photos
Once you have selected and perfected your best photos, it is time to choose the category to submit them in. This year, Northwest Exposure has five categories, and you can submit one photograph in each category. Remember photos must be taken in Washington state.
Choosing the right category for your photo will maximize your chances of winning. Professional photographer and regular Washington Trails contributor, Paul Raymaker, has provided some great pointers for this year's categories.
Here are some good rules of thumb:
- Great landscape? This year we are focusing on trails so there should be a trail in your landscape that helps draw the eye.
- Hiker in the photo? Submit your (adult) hiker photos in the Hikers in Action category. We want to see their faces!
- Kids and family photos will have their best chances in the Families on Trail category.
- Does the photo make you chuckle? Whether it includes people, pets or places, include all of these in the Offbeat Outdoors category.
- Cute pooch? Save the Fauna category for the wild animals. Dogs will do best in Offbeat Outdoors or with hikers in the Hikers in Action categories.
Now go find that winning photo! Or use these tips as an excuse to go out and take some new inspiring shots for your own archives.
Gear, glory and prizes
The winners will be showcased in the January+February 2013 Washington Trails magazine. Plus, winners will receive some great prizes including camera bags courtesy of LowePro and Mountainsmith, or cool gear from Powertraveller and Granite Gear.
The Grand Prize winner will also receive a beautifully mounted version of their photo, courtesy of Bumblejax.
Submit before the contest deadline: October 14, 2012
Hikers lost a real friend with the recent passing of WTA member John Wright of University Place. News reports indicate that he fell while on a solo hike of Green Mountain, in the North Bend area, last Friday. By all accounts, John, an experienced hiker, lived for the outdoors.
Many wta.org visitors may know John by his screen name Tomas. Over the years, he has submitted more than 100 trip reports of his adventures, and made WTA's list of top trip reporters for 2011. Many of us in the WTA office looked forward reading to his reports. I am sure we were not alone in this appreciation. They were filled with just the right amount of trail data, to be sure. More memorably, they captured his exuberant love of our mountains, and showed his kindness toward fellow hikers.
Our deepest condolences go out to all of John's family and friends.
I hope you can join us for what is quickly becoming one of my favorite WTA events, Hike the State. This gathering of hikers offers excitement and inspiration for the upcoming hiking season. We'll have on hand seven experts who will give you some prime trail suggestions from around the state in a fast, fun format. The event is FREE but an RSVP is required.
WTA's Hike the State
Wednesday, June 6
6:30 -8:30pm Seattle REI
Need a little more information before you brave downtown Seattle traffic on a Wednesday evening? Let me introduce you to our esteemed hiking experts.
>> Craig Romano
Craig Romano is an outdoors writer, photographer and author of eight books, including Backpacking Washington, Day Hiking North Cascades and Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula. He's called Washington state his home since 1989 and has hiked more than 15,000 miles, from Cape Disappointment to Puffer Butte. Craig will give you a sneak peak of his next project, Day Hiking Eastern Washington (Mountaineers Books, to be published spring 2013 with Rich Landers), as he takes you on a tour of the Blue Mountains in Southeast Washington.
>> Tami Asars
Tami Asars is an outdoors writer and photographer. She serves as a Regional Correspondent for Washington Trails magazine, as writes for online blogs and other trail publications. In September, her latest project, Hiking the Wonderland Trail (Mountaineers Books), will be available in stores. Tami will share with you a version of Mount Rainier's paradise that is a little more off-the-beaten-path.
>> Nathan and Jer Barnes
Looking for some lesser known hikes within 90 minutes of Seattle? The siblings behind Hiking with my Brother will be give you some great suggestions. In 2008, brothers Nathan and Jer, started weekly hikes to explore all the trails in Harvey Manning and Ira Spring’s 55 Hikes around Snoqualmie Pass. Now they venture far beyond Snoqualmie Pass and write for Backpacker Magazine, their blog and other publications.
>> Dawn Erickson
A recently retired trail specialist for the Darrington Ranger District, Dawn has spent many years wandering the trails of the Mountain Loop. Her tour of FR 20 is bound to have some great hike suggestions, along with a little history about what makes this part of Washington so special.
>> Shane Farnor
Experience the beauty of Olympic National Park, with Shane Farnor. As the online advocacy manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, Shane is intimately familiar with Washington's national parks. His seven minute presentation is bound to bring to light a couple of lesser known gems from the ONP.
We round out the Hike the State experts with two of WTA's own staff. Executive Director Karen Daubert will share with you her adventures from Mazama. And last but not least, Washington Trails editor Eli Boschetto will help you discover the wildflowers of the Columbia River Gorge.
The people I have talked with, experts and attendees alike, are very excited about this event. Everyone is looking forward to learning about new hiking destinations and networking with other hikes. We are pretty excited about it here in the WTA office too!
Space is limited, and we had to turn people away last year, so please RSVP today.
Do you love talking with people about hiking? Want to help others discover the joy of volunteering on trail? Consider becoming a WTA outreach volunteer!
Join WTA January 26 for an Open House.
Washington Trails Association's ninth annual Northwest Exposure Photo Contest is accepting entries August 15-October 10, 2011.
WTA started working on the Guemes Mountain trail in fall 2010 and we are excited that this sweet hike to some great views is now open.
A sneak peek at a few of WTA's experts for Hike the State.