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Posted on: April 15, 2019

State Parks partners with healthcare providers to prescribe nature

Park Rx? ‘Take a walk in the park and call me in the morning’

OLYMPIA – April 15, 2019 – Washington State Parks is proud to announce the launch of its Park Rx program, in time for National Park Rx Day on April 28. More than a dozen state parks will participate by offering special activities.

Washington State Parks is looking to help more people enjoy the outdoors and improve their health. The nonprofit organization Park Rx America and State Parks are working with healthcare providers across Washington to prescribe nature to patients as part of a healthcare regimen.

“Doctors and other health professionals are realizing the healing power of being outdoors and have taken to prescribing parks and other natural areas to their patients using ParkRxAmerica.org to address diabetes, obesity, hypertension, depression and anxiety, among many other lifestyle-driven diseases,” said Dr. Robert Zarr. Park Rx America founder and pediatrician. “Prescribing parks in the office or hospital has never been easier, with now more than 8,500 parks nationwide, including more than 470 city, county, PUD and state parks in Washington.”

Washington state parks alone play host to 36.7 million visits a year.

“We’re very excited to work with Park RX America to bring a great tool to healthcare providers across Washington,” said Washington State Parks Director Don Hoch. “Washington state parks are beautiful places for people to explore, and numerous studies are now showing people can improve their physical, mental and spiritual health by visiting parks, whether to hike, bike, camp or just meditate or read a book in nature.”

Washington State Parks is partnering with the Washington State Department of Veterans’ Affairs counseling and wellness program with this initiative.

“Helping veterans find alternative ways to handle issues such as post-traumatic stress is incredibly beneficial and an integral part of the healing and growth process,” said Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs Director Alfie Alvarado. “Whether it’s taking a hike, camping for the weekend or fishing, our natural resources have the power to help veterans heal.”

Additionally, the following organizations support the Parks Rx program: City of Chelan, Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, Chelan County PUD Parks and Recreation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Recreation Northwest and Chelan-area Safeway pharmacies.

Healthcare providers and other land/recreation organizations that would like more information on how to participate in the Park Rx program can visit www.WAParkRx.org.

To celebrate the first National Park Rx Day, Washington State Parks is offering numerous activities and events to help get people outdoors and experience the health benefits of nature. Here are some of the events planned in state parks:

Saturday, April 27

  • Mount St. Helens Visitor Center: 10 -11 a.m. .75-mile guided wetland walk.
  • Possession Point:  11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Familyfriendly activities include life jacket safety talks, intertidal walk, hiking the loop trail to the bluff and kayaking information.
  • Peace Arch: 10 a.m. Ranger-led historical walk through the park. Meet in the parking lot near the interpretive kiosk.
  • Manchester: 2 p.m. Guided walking tour of Battery Mitchell. Meet at the Bricks Building.

Sunday, April 28

  • Birch Bay: 9 a.m. Guided native plant and bird walk. Meet at the Heron Center.
  • Beacon Rock: 10 a.m. 1-mile ranger-guided walk on the ADA-accessible interpretive trail. Meet at the Doetsch day-use shelter.
  • Cape Disappointment: 1 p.m. 1.5-mile guided hike. Meet at Coastal Loop parking lot.
  • Dash Point: 9 a.m. 3-mile ranger-guided hike. Meet at the beach parking lot.
  • Ginkgo Petrified Forest: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. National Park Rx Day ranger hike. Meet at the Vantage Hwy Interpretive Trailhead. Bring water, wind-proof layers and hiking shoes.
  • Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail: 8:30 -10 a.m. National Park Rx Day hike. Meet at the South Cle Elum Depot. Bring water, wind-proof layers and hiking shoes.
  • Deception Pass: 11 a.m. Ramble with a ranger-guided hike. Meet at the Bowman Bay boat launch.
  • Kopachuck: 10 and 11 a.m. Guided wetland habitat tours on the interpretive trail with Harbor WildWatch’s Education Director Rachel Easton.
  • Kopachuck: 1 p.m. Guided nature walk on the interpretive trail. Meet at interpretive trail trailhead near the Ranger House.
  • Peace Arch: 1 p.m. Ranger-led historical walk through the park. Meet in the parking lot near the interpretive kiosk.
  • Larrabee: 7 p.m. Ranger-led sunset walk of the tidepools at the beach. Meet at the Bandshell.
  • Fort Worden: noon – 2 p.m. Spring into Forest Bathing (guided meditative walk). Meet at noon in front of Madrona MindBody Institute (building 310, past Taps Pub on the left).

News media contacts:
Sandy Mealing, Creative Services Manager, (360) 902-8559

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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: 19-017

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