Six State Parks Slated for Mothballing
To comply with mandated budget cuts, State Parks proposes mothballing six parks, including Squak Mountain, Federation Forest, Fort Ward, Peshastin Pinnacles, Tolmie, and Flaming Geyser.
Here we go again. To comply with mandated budget cuts, Washington State Parks proposes mothballing six parks, including Squak Mountain, Federation Forest, Fort Ward, Peshastin Pinnacles, Tolmie and Flaming Geyser.
With a budget deficit north of $3 billion, Governor Christine Gregoire has required agencies to plan for a 10% budget cut. Since only about 30% of the state budget can be cut due to constitutional and federal requirements, state land management agencies like State Parks, the Department of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife are first on the chopping block.
State Parks has responded to the current budget situation, which translates to about $8.1 million in cuts between current and future biennium, by proposing to shrink administrative staff, reduce some park services and mothball six parks.
If you want to save these parks, now is the time to act.
The option to close these six parks was chosen over another one that would have mothballed 13 parks, so this situation could have been much worse. You can read the detailed commission reports here and check out each individual park here.
Why these parks? These were the six with the lowest percentage of revenue to expenses. That was the criteria, plain and simple. But only Flaming Geyser and Federation Forest will actually save the agency more than $100,000. The other four cost very little to keep open.
Losing these parks for a season or more will hurt. And that pain will extend not just to the hikers who love these places, but to the landscapes themselves. We've seen time and again that when land management agencies gate parking areas and trailheads, all sorts of undesirable activities flourish, including dumping, unsanctioned target shooting and meth production. Trails and facilities deteriorate. All of these impacts make opening these areas back up much more expensive in the long run.
Still, given our current situation, keeping these places open will take a lot of work. If you love one or more of these parks, please take a moment and call your State Representatives and Senator and let them know that you want them to take action to keep these parks open. You can find your members here. WTA will keep you updated on this issue as it progresses.