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A Crossroads for State Parks

Posted by Lauren Braden at Mar 13, 2012 12:55 PM |

Stacy Czebotar, a Washington State Park ranger for more than six years, had to turn in her badge, say goodbye to her co-workers and let go of a park she loved. She was laid off in late December along with more than 80 others. Find out what you can do to help increase funding for our state parks.

Our state parks are cherished. For many of us, they're where we introduce a child to their first trail, where our favorite waterfall resides, or our family's top campground.

We recently published 20 State Park Hikes, and we asked hikers to tell us about their favorite Washington state park. Dozens of you answered. See the list of favorite state parks here on our Facebook page. Ebey's Landing and Fort Casey are Christian's favorites. Nancy likes St. Edwards State Park. Jennifer writes: "Too many to pick favorites! We are so lucky to live here with access to such great places!"

Indeed, we are so lucky.

But our state parks, cherished as they are, lack the dedicated funding they require to stay open, safe and well cared-for. In the March/April issue of Washington Trails magazine, we ran a moving story by a former state park ranger, Stacy Czebotar. After six years of service, living her dream as a ranger at Twanoh State Park, she was handed a pink slip in late December. You can read Stacy's story here.

Stacy is one of many Washington State Parks rangers let go late last year because of our state budget deficit. Their absence will be felt deeply as families, hikers and campers venture onto state lands this summer. We will miss all of their contributions, from the campfire presentations they gave us to the law enforcement protection. These lay-offs affect all state parks, whether they are suburban or remote.

Though our state parks are facing unprecedented hardships, there are ways you can help.

First, buy a Discover Pass, and use it. This new dedicated funding source is critical to keeping our state recreation lands open and funded. An any day, Governor Gregoire will sign a bill that makes the Discover Pass transferable between two vehicles.

Second, raise your voice for parks! Contact your state legislators and let them know you support budget increases for state parks. Ask them to support the $4 million increase in state park funding that is currently in the state House and Senate supplemental operating budgets being considered at the legislature.

Yes, we cherish our state parks. Let's show them just how much.