Parks — a future in peril

We all have seen, heard and have been greatly affected by the budget short fall plaguing our state. All state agencies were asked to cut their budgets and have responded to that request. Programs pared back or put on hold, services curtailed and staff cuts are the result. One state agency was told they had to do more.

Our Washington State Parks were totally cut out of the budget and told to operate on a self-funding program. This catastrophic decline in revenue resulted in major staff reductions, numerous parks being closed with others on the brink, interpretive and educational services gutted and restorative and maintenance projects either stopped or severely underfunded. With this unacceptable funding system our parks will spiral into a state of disrepair that they will never recover from.

In this “electronic age” our parks should be playing a major role in providing places where we can get back in touch with the natural world and unwind from the frantic pace. A place where we can see, touch and experience the great natural wonders and history of this great state. This is our heritage that we need to pass on and is all in jeopardy of being lost. Our parks cannot be maintained under the current system.

The special session of our Legislature will convene Monday with one amendment aimed at stopping the destruction of our parks. This amendment is called the Seaquist Amendment and is known as SHB 1935. It asks for the partial return of funding of State Parks.

By calling the Legislative Hot line at 1-800-562-6000 and leaving a short message asking for the passage of this amendment we can show that the citizens of this state want to keep their parks. Without the passage of this amendment the future of our state parks is in peril.

Paul Wenzel