News Releases

Posted on: August 12, 2016

16-051 State Parks seeks public comment on new directions for Westhaven/Westport Light state parks

OLYMPIA – Aug. 12, 2016 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is holding a workshop to gather feedback from the public on park naming, land classifications and possible concession operations at Westhaven and Westport Light state parks.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 31, at McCausland Hall, 2201 Westhaven Drive, Westport. (Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/CpWkvPeiHJ72)    


New park name
In December 2015, State Parks acquired a 297-acre property between Westhaven State Park and Westport Light State Park—making one park out of two. At the workshop, State Parks will gather ideas on what the new, larger state park should be named. 

Land classifications
Land classifications determine which parts of a state park should be kept in a more natural state and which are suitable for higher-intensity recreational developments. The land classifications for Westhaven and Westport Light state parks were adopted by the State Parks and Recreation Commission in 2007. Recently, it was brought to State Parks’ attention that some of the areas classified to allow higher-intensity recreational developments may not be suitable because of wetlands. At the Aug. 31 workshop, State Parks will seek comment from the public on proposed new land classifications for the park.


Definitions of State Parks land classifications system are here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=352-16-020


Concessions
State Parks is also considering the development of park visitor amenities—to be operated by private or outside concessionaires. Amenities could include cabins or food service and would be located in specific areas of the park. Concessions would provide park visitors with new experiences and amenities that are beyond State Parks’ financial capacity, while generating lease revenue to help operate the park system. Allowing concessions does not mean the agency is attempting to privatize state parks.


At the workshop, State Parks staff will explain the concept of concessions and discuss areas of the parks under consideration for these amenities. Staff will ask for public comment about the concept, the site proposals, park-specific development restrictions and types of new recreational facilities the public could support.


Next steps

The State Parks Commission will consider the feedback gathered from this workshop and from online comments at its next regular meeting on Sept. 22, in Sequim.


Project information and a comment form are available on the State Parks website at http://parks.state.wa.us/900/Real-Estate-Policy-Update. For questions, contact Nikki Fields, Parks Planner, (360) 902-8658 or planning@parks.wa.gov.


State Parks staff recently initiated a public outreach process to get feedback on a list of candidate parks for possible major concession. Westhaven and Westport Light state parks are among the sites that generated the most interest.


Other pilot sites under consideration for major concession areas are Millersylvania State Park south of Olympia in Thurston County, Fort Flagler Historical State Park in Jefferson County and Squilchuck State Park in Chelan County. The Commission will consider approving these pilot sites at its September meeting.


Background

State Parks financing has changed dramatically since 2009. Prior to the recession, Parks’ funding base relied upon approximately 80 percent of its general operations funding from taxes. Today, just 20 percent of the park system’s general operating fund comes from tax revenue. The remaining 80 percent comes from use fees for camping, Discover Pass, moorage, overnight accommodations and other earned revenues, including leases.


Due to significant budget cuts during the 2011-13 Biennium, State Parks adopted a strategy to build public and financial support for the agency. One strategy included allowing private investment in facilities and services that align with the State Parks’ mission of providing outdoor recreation and stewardship of natural, cultural and historical resources. Through this and other efforts, State Parks continues working toward a healthy and sustainable park system. At the same time, the Commission continues to advocate for tax support to operate the park system, which benefits all citizens’ health, economy and quality of life.  



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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.

Follow Washington State Parks:

Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks’ blog site at www.AdventureAwaits.com.

Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACTS:      

Toni Droscher, (360) 902-8604
Srey Ryser, (360) 902-8626
Debbie Fant, (360) 902-8635 


Wash. Telecommunications Relay Service: (800) 833-6388

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