Virginia Painter, (360) 902-8562
OLYMPIA – July 3, 2018 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will consider adopting 2019-21 operating and capital budget requests at its meeting next week in Vancouver.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 12, at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Headquarters, 501 E. Fifth St., No. 404, Vancouver. The Commission has public meetings six times a year in pre-determined locations around the state. Time for public comment is provided at all regular meetings. A full agenda, including information about opportunities for public comment is available at http://parks.state.wa.us/154/Commission-Meetings-Agendas.
State agencies must submit their 2019-21 budget requests to the state Office of Financial Management in September. The Commission will consider request levels that allow State Parks to build on progress made starting in 2015-17, following a recession that resulted in dramatic staffing losses and service cuts in parks and programs. The Commission’s top goal is achieving a healthy, sustainable park system.
Progress since the recession has been continual since 2015 but has slowed more recently. The agency is still operating at a lowered capacity, yet park visits are on the rise. Progress since the recession has been possible due to agency efforts to increase earned revenue by applying modern business practices, leveraging partnerships, and marketing; funding support from the governor and legislature; and the use of cash reserves.
The 2019-21 proposal under Commission consideration next week would ensure greater stability for the park system. The operating request includes about $30 million more than the current (2017-19) funding level, for a total of about $197 million. The operating budget pays for park and program staff, equipment and utility costs, park custodial maintenance and administrative functions common to all agencies, for such things as IT, human resources, accounting, budget and communications. Priorities of the proposal include: maintaining current service levels by replacement of one-time allocations – $9 million of litter tax money and $1 million of general fund dollars to help State Parks; preventive park and trail maintenance; filling service gaps in current service levels; protecting natural resources; and youth and community engagement.
The capital budget proposal to be considered by the Commission includes a request of about $111 million to deal with critical projects such as sewer and water system upgrades, campground improvements, building, road and bridge repairs and preservation of historic and cultural assets. The agency continues to make progress on a significant maintenance backlog that currently is estimated at $463 million.
The Commission also will consider approving a land classification and management plan update for Riverside State Park. The large state park near Spokane is comprised of several natural areas and lies along the Spokane River, Lake Spokane and the Little Spokane River. The public planning effort explores future options for the park.
In other business, the Commission will consider:
- Approving the Commission’s 2019 regular meeting schedule.
- Adopting an update of the agency Strategic Plan.
- Authorizing the director to work with the Commission’s Legislative Committee if request legislation is deemed necessary.
- Updating statues pertaining to ski lift inspections.
- Amending a lease agreement with the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center Public Development Authority.
- Approving rankings for Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program Park Category grant projects.
Commission work session
A work session is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 11, at the Fort Vancouver Red Cross Building, 605 Barnes St., Vancouver. Commission work sessions are open to the public; however, there is no opportunity for public comment, and the Commission will take no formal action.a
The work session agenda includes reports to the Commission on budget preparations and agency financing; Geographic Information System; an update on a multi-agency North Cove project in the agency-managed Seashore Conservation Area; and the agency’s longtime effort to delineate long-term boundaries for parks in the state system.
Park site tours
Commission members will meet for tours during meeting week. Members of the public are welcome to participate in tours but are responsible for their own transportation. Tour details follow:
Paradise Point State Park, 33914 N.W. Paradise Park Road, Ridgefield – 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 10.
Battle Ground Lake State Park, 18002 N.E. 249th St., Battle Ground – 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, July 10.
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 612 Reserve St., Vancouver – 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 11.
U.S. Forest Service Regional Office, 9087 McClellan Road, Vancouver – 8:30 a.m. Friday, July 13.
About Washington State Parks
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.
Follow Washington State Parks:
Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks’ blog site at http://adventureawaits.com/
Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov.
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
1111 Israel Road S.W.
P.O. Box 42650
Olympia, WA 98504-2650
Washington Telecommunications Relay Service: (800) 833-6388