Saturday, January 5, 2013

Celebrate Washington State Parks Centennial!

(by Joonbug Graphic Design)
This year, 2013, marks the 100th anniversary (March 19, 1913 to be exact) of the establishment of the Washington State Parks system—one of the country’s oldest. From Birch Bay in the northwest corner to Fields Spring in the southeast, from Crawford/Gardner Cave in the northeast to Paradise Point in the southwest... the 186 magnificent, historical, peaceful, and wild spots cover the four compass points of one of America’s most beautiful states. 

To celebrate the year, many parks are offering special activities, tours, interpretive programs, concerts, and much much more. For a list of parks and special events, click here.  

Even though nearly 40 million people visit the parks each year, the system faces looming budget cuts, putting the future of 116 parks in jeopardy. Everyone involved in the State Parks Commission is scrambling to find creative ways to shore up funds and keep all the parks running. Washington Governor Christine Gregoire has recommended using $19 million from the state’s General Fund to keep things running. 

The best source of revenue for the parks has been the Discover Pass, a user fee instituted in 2011. Since it costs $10 to enter each state park individually, the $30 annual pass, good throughout the system, is a outstanding deal. And although the Discover Pass hasn’t quite matched expectations in terms of quantity purchased, the parks do receive 84 percent of the revenue, or $25.20 per pass purchased. 

Remember that the Pass makes a great gift (birthday, anniversary, wedding etc.), both for travelers to Washington State and to friends and family members who are residents who enjoy the state parks for weekend recreation. New this year is the option to pick your start date; it’s valid for one year from that date. For details and to purchase a Discover Pass, click here.

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