OLYMPIA – June 29, 2023 – Washington’s state parks are some of the most iconic in the country. Now, more families will be able to experience the beauty in their backyard thanks to the expanded Check Out Washington program.
This year, Check Out Washington will provide 500 Adventure Packs with Discover passes – up from 400 in 2022 – to local libraries around the state. The program has also expanded into new regions, including Bellingham Public Library, Ellensburg Public Library, Fort Vancouver Regional Library and Whatcom County Library.
Check Out Washington is a collaborative program supported by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (Parks), the Washington State Parks Foundation (Foundation), Washington State Library and WSECU. The program provides Adventure Packs and Discover passes for check out with a library card, increasing access to public lands for families who might otherwise not have the tools or resources to visit. The program’s expansion puts an emphasis on communities that would benefit the most from greater access to outdoor recreation, as indicated by health disparity data.
“To celebrate Mother's Day weekend, I took my mom birding near Vancouver where I borrowed the kit from the Cascade Park Community Library,” Patty Tang, a community member, said. “We had an incredible time enjoying our time in nature and with each other. It was extra special for my mom, as it was only her second time using binoculars since my elementary school years. We didn't have many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as a family growing up due to financial and time constraints, so it's been a goal of mine to share more of these experiences with my family now that we have the means.”
When library users check out their adventure packs, they will receive materials to help first-time visitors. This includes a Discover Pass, which provides families with free parking at public lands managed by Parks, Washington Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. They also feature educational materials, a set of three laminated pocket guides about Washington trees, wildlife and birds, and a high-quality set of binoculars. The Adventure Packs are made in-state by eqpd gear, a Twisp-based sustainable bag manufacturer.
“The field guides and binoculars provided in the kit were great companions, as I'm still pretty new at using both to identify birds and other wildlife,” Tang said. “We saw great egrets, sparrows, hawks, a great blue heron, mallards, Canada geese, and maybe an eagle.”
Last summer, the program’s Adventure Packs circulated to 3,728 library patrons. This year, program materials will also be translated into Spanish and Somali, further expanding the number of library users who can learn and explore with their Adventure Pack.
"We're expanding park access for those who most need it, because interest in the program is skyrocketing," said John Floberg, Foundation Executive Director. "Last year some libraries had wait times of up to four months to take out Adventure Packs."
Check Out Washington Adventure Packs are available through the following library systems:
- Bellingham Public Library (New for 2023!)
- Ellensburg Public Library (New for 2023!)
- Fairchild Airforce Base Library
- Fort Vancouver Regional Library (New for 2023!)
- Joint Base Lewis-McChord Libraries
- King County Library System (Expanded in 2023!)
- North Central Regional Library
- Pierce County Library System
- Spokane County Library District
- Spokane Public Library
- Tacoma Public Library
- Timberland Regional Library
- Whatcom County Library (New for 2023!)
- Yakima Valley Libraries
Check Out Washington launched in 2019 as a partnership between Parks and Washington State Library with seed money and program development from the Foundation and support from the Washington departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The State Legislature provides funding for two passes per participating library. In 2022, the Washington State Parks Foundation secured a sponsorship from WSECU for the program. The sponsorship funded an additional 400 passes as well as Adventure Pack materials. The Foundation also provided $27,000 to purchase binoculars for the packs. This year, WSECU has increased its sponsorship to help the program reach 500 passes and adventure packs and provide even more families with opportunities to explore their state parks.
View the Check Out Washington toolkit here.
News media contact:
Sarah Fronk, Washington State Parks Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
About Washington State Library
Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, connects Washington through the power of libraries. It builds prosperous and informed communities by providing technology, access to information, resources, and professional support to librarians and residents statewide. Washington State library also collects, preserves, and make available materials on the state’s government, history, culture, and natural resources. Through its branch services, the State Library supports the information needs of residents in state institutions and people who cannot read standard print.
About Washington State Parks Foundation
Washington State Parks Foundation is a statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving, protecting and advocating for Washington’s spectacular state parks. The mission of the Washington State Parks Foundation is to ensure a vibrant and inclusive Washington State Parks system for generations to enjoy. We engage, expand, and sustain a broad base of supporters who give to, advocate for and treasure Washington’s 124 state parks.
WSECU is a not-for-profit credit union open to all Washington residents with a special emphasis on serving those who embrace the values of giving, sharing and supporting their communities. WSECU has 300,000 members, 23 branches, and $5 billion in assets. It commits 4 percent of its annual net income to invest back into the communities it serves through partnerships with education and other nonprofit institutions.