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Posted on: September 13, 2018

State Parks Commission considers adding Westport Light to potential ‘next new park’ list

OLYMPIA – Sept. 13, 2018 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will consider placing Westport Light State Park in Westport on a short list of candidates to be considered for a new park predesign study, the first step in developing a new state park .


The Commission meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at the offices of the Okanogan P.U.D., 1331 Second Ave., Okanogan. (Driving directions.) The Commission meets six times a year at pre-determined locations around the state. Time for public comment is provided at all regular meetings. A full meeting agenda, including information about opportunities for public comment, is available online at http://parks.state.wa.us/154/Commission-Meetings-Agendas.


By statute and mission, the Commission is required to provide a park system for current and future generations and to acquire properties for future park development. In 2016, the Commission approved three top candidates to be considered for next new State Park — the Fisk State Park Property near Spokane; Miller State Park Property in Clallam County; and Nisqually State Park in Eastern Pierce County. 


Through a partnership with the Nisqually Tribe, a Nisqually State Park master plan was completed, and the park is open for day and equestrian use. The agency plans to request funding for a pre-design study on further development there as part of its 2019 supplemental budget request. With Nisqually proceeding independently of the agency’s selection process, staff is asking the Commission to consider placing Westport Light as a third candidate park for consideration in its next new park selection process.  


The staff rationale for Westport Light is based on multiple factors, including support from the City of Westport for its local parks and the community’s expressed interest in partnering with State Parks and others to support park development. Additionally, in 2015, State Parks acquired 300 acres that join two parks, Westport Light and Westhaven. Development at Westport Light also could help replace visitor services and opportunities lost in the area due to flooding at nearby Twin Harbors State Park.


A 2015 Earth Economics study commissioned by State Parks showed that visits to parks benefit local communities through direct and indirect visitor expenditures, taxes, jobs and ecosystem services. The strategic direction of the agency’s Statewide Acquisition and Development Strategy guides State Parks to focus new acquisitions and development primarily in communities that support park development and where there may be opportunities to partner in developing or assisting with managing parks. 


The agency will request pre-design funding in the 2019-21 Capital budget to begin a process that will help determine which of the three candidate products should be developed first. Public and community engagement will be key to the process. 


Commission resolution
The Commission also is expected to pass a resolution supporting the legislative allocation of $130 million to the 2019-21 Capital Budget for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). The WWRP is one of the key funding sources for state park acquisition and development. The resolution mentions the need to keep pace with real estate and development costs and pressures from population growth and also references research that underscores the positive effects of parks and nature on human health.

Budget business
The Commission also will be asked to approve the submittal of 2019 Supplemental Operating and Capital Budget Requests to the Office of Financial Management. Agencies historically request supplemental funds to cover unforeseen increases in cost or non-discretionary increases in workload and caseload and to help meet high-priority goals set by the Governor.

Reports
The Commission will hear staff reports, including an agency financial update and reports on the status of property transfers and disposal and 2017-18 Winter Recreation Program activities.

Commission work session
A work session is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the offices of the Okanogan Public Utilities District, 1331 Second Ave., Okanogan. Commission work sessions are open to the public; however, there is no opportunity for public comment, and no formal action is taken.  

The work session agenda includes staff reports and updates on the agency’s 2019-21 Operating Budget and Capital Budget requests; mid-year update on Commission and Director-identified priorities; and development at Goldendale Observatory. Staff also will provide commissioners an overview of State Parks’ tribal relations efforts and the agency land manual, which provides guidance on real estate activities.

Commission tours
During meeting week, commission members may participate in park tours and partnership meeting opportunities. Tours are open to the public; however, those participating must provide their own transportation. Scheduled tours include: 

  • Tuesday, Sept. 18, commissioners will tour Curlew Lake State Park near Republic at 10:30 a.m., followed by a tour and interpretive talk at the Ranald MacDonald Gravesite at 11:45 a.m. Commission members will gather for lunch in Republic following the tour.  
  • Thursday, Sept. 20, following the regular meeting, commissioners will visit Conconully State Park, where there will be a historical society presentation at approximately 4:30 p.m.

News media contacts:  
Virginia Painter, State Parks Communications Director, (360) 902-8562
Toni Droscher, State Parks Communications Consultant, (360) 902-8604


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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. 

News release number: 18-057

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