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Parks Commission will consider Transformation Strategy next week

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During the past two years, the Commission established the need for a Transformation Strategy to make the changes needed to continue appealing to visitors who now must choose state parks from an array of offerings. Other principles in the strategy include building stronger relationships with volunteers, friends and partners; acquiring appropriate data needed to make strong business decisions; and embracing innovation and technology to ensure relevance and sustainability.

In other business, the Commission will consider policy revisions relating to utility placements on state park land and new fee schedules for authorizing these uses of park lands. Staff each year receive numerous requests for easements for a variety of non-recreational uses of parklands, with the majority for utility placements and roads over, under or through parkland. More than half of State Parks’ easement agreements are within former railroad corridors known as rail-trails, properties that were acquired beginning in the early 1980s. Of more than 500 utility placements, nearly half exist without a documented legal agreement authorizing placement. The new policy and fee schedule would standardize fees, make for more efficient management and provide easement holders clear direction and process for new easements.

The Commission also will consider authorizing the exchange of the agency’s former Puget Sound Region Office for a commercial property owned by the City of Auburn, which can be used by Parks as working endowment land or divested through public auction. The City property is currently vacant and undeveloped, with a 2013 assessed land value of $833,000. The former Region Office property is currently zoned Public Use and is currently assessed at $582,600.

The Commission will hear several reports, including one on the status of ongoing conversations around the future governance at Fort Worden State Park. In December 2012, the Commission authorized staff to negotiate a management agreement with the Fort Worden Public Development Authority for the area of Fort Worden State Park generally referred to as the campus area of the park. All related Commission agenda items are available online at www.parks.wa.gov/FortWorden/ (select Governance 2012).

Other reports include a capital construction program update, a forest health update, an annual Washington Administrative Code review and financial and legislative updates.

Commission work session: A Commission work session is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, in the Hearings Room of the Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office at Parsons Plaza, State Parks Headquarters Building, 1111 Israel Road S.E., Tumwater. A roundtable discussion with current and former Commissioners will take place from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Other work session topics include: roofed accommodations; stewardship training; sustainability update; community-based projects/friends group; Puget Sound parks; facility assessment; conditions on a past property transfer with Olympic National Park; smoking in campgrounds; reorganization status; Discover Pass business plan; Winter Recreation program; Centennial 2013 events and marketing update. The session is open to the public, however, no public testimony and no formal Commission action are taken at work sessions. 

Stay connected to your state parks by following Washington State Parks at www.facebook.com/WashingtonStateParks, www.twitter.com/WaStatePks and www.youtube.com/WashingtonStateParks. Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks blog site at www.AdventureAwaits.com.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation. Washington State Parks will turn 100 years old on March 19, 2013, and will celebrate with events in parks all over the state, all year long. For more information, visit www.parks.wa.gov/events/.

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.

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