Help Washington State Parks Develop a New Plan for the Future: 10 Public Meetings Are Scheduled Across the State
Washington State Parks is in the midst of an extraordinary transformation of programs and finance. As they enter their second century of service, they find themselves mightily challenged by the task of stewarding an amazing legacy of natural, cultural and recreational resources turned over to our care by previous generations.
During the past five years, State Parks has shrunk the system from 121 to 116 parks, has reduced staff by approximately 200 FTE and has reduced its operating budget by 25%. In the same five years, their funding has decreased from a decades-long funding level of about 70 percent general fund support, to 42 percent last biennium and about 12 percent currently. General fund for State Parks is expected to be at zero in the next biennium.
The 2011 budget proviso passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Gregoire, gave clear direction to the agency:
By August 1, 2012, State Parks must submit a report to the Office of Financial Management detailing its progress toward the goal of making the parks system self-supporting and outlining any additional statutory changes needed for successful implementation.
With their “Centennial 2013 Plan” set for a strategic update, and their 2013-15 budget submittal needed on the heels of the above proviso report, State Parks is going to reach out to the public to help them chart our course forward.
Ten public meetings are scheduled throughout the state in May and June. Please attend if you can!
Tri Cities: 7 – 8:30 p.m. May 17
Meeting details can be found on The State Parks and Recreation Commission website
They want to talk with you, our stakeholders, to better understand your questions, suggestions and concerns, so they can provide you the best information they have about the choices they face in programs and finance.
The information gained will be used to help them develop a larger transformation strategy intended to be the successor to the Centennial 2013 Plan. To structure the public outreach effort, State Parks has come up with three alternative “thematic visions” for the future of their system. The alternatives are:Theme 1: Parks as an Enterprise
Theme 2: Parks as a Community Non-Profit
Theme 3: Parks as a Public Conservation Asset
Each thematic alternative will be described in some detail and discussed at the public meetings, where they will ask a number of critical questions for your consideration. Each theme details an approach that could close the gap between program costs and park financing.
But these are only “themes.” Outlining their choices in this fashion will allow them to broaden their thinking about what we most value about our magnificent park system and how best to sustain it over time. The themes also provide a meaningful structure for public comment now and in the future.
You can get all the details about the upcoming meetings and how you can participate on The State Parks and Recreation Commission website