Parks' land and development strategy guides agency management

In 2016, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission adopted the Statewide Park Acquisition and Development Strategy. This landmark strategy will ensure that State Parks bases land acquisition and development decisions on clearly described goals and strategies to meet public needs and expectations for the park system.

The strategy guides real estate activities and development and redevelopment of parks in a manner that is intentional and directed, helps to ensure public confidence and inspire support by local communities and partners.

State Parks owns and manages some 123,000 acres of parks and properties. Some properties have been purchased or accepted through donations over the years and held for future development, so the agency can meet its mission of ensuring parks for future generations. Washington’s current population growth is another reason the Commission must keep an eye focused on the future. The Office of Financial Management projected the state’s population will grow from 7 million in 2014 to 9 million in 2040. State Parks’ public outdoor spaces and recreational opportunities will become increasingly more important to Washington’s economic vitality and quality of life.

Since 2000, about 90 percent of acreage acquired by State Parks has occurred within or adjacent to existing park property. Acquisitions have mostly been guided by the agency’s public input-driven planning process, which classifies lands for use intensity and identifies desired long-term boundaries for existing parks.

What’s next? With the Strategy in hand, State Parks is starting work to identify which properties and parks to develop next. In 2017, with information from public process, the Commission will choose the next new park – and one for redevelopment, to help focus the next several years of budget requests, beginning with funds for design.