GROUP OF THE YEAR
• Whidbey Island Retired Chief Petty Officer Association, RCPOA, (Oak Harbor, Wash.) has volunteered at Rasar State Park since 2001 contributing a total of 2,100 hours. While camping in the park ten years ago, group members realized the newly opened group camp still needed work. They began to make improvements, and in 2011 the group officially adopted the park. They have maintained trails, added recreational amenities, and revitalized natural resources, showcasing the caring nature of this association. They removed 4,000 feet of barbed wire and replaced it with a habitat-friendly wire to protect wildlife. Each spring, the RCPOA spends a weekend doing the annual spring cleanup. In 2011, the firewood sales were higher than normal, and the park was going to run out of wood before the busy Labor Day weekend. The ranger contacted the RCPOA and a week later 197 bundles of firewood were produced, which resulted in adding $1,379 to the park funds. The RCPOA also participated in a joint effort with park staff to upgrade the amphitheater. The results included the addition of electricity and new benches, expanding the area, installing a screen, constructing a podium and re-graveling. The RCPOA installed the electricity and built and installed the log-framed screen. "The physical labor and projects the group has accomplished are amazing as stand-alone efforts, but the cumulative effect of what they do and who they are as individuals and as a group provide the example of how volunteers can serve as the backbone of state parks," said Park Ranger Debbie Wyman.
• Friends of the Columbia River Gateway (Long Beach Area, Wash.) incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit organization in 1994 and have been dedicated to supporting living history events, guest speakers, temporary exhibits, and concert events at in the Long Beach Area (LBA) state parks. For the past several years their average annual contribution to the LBA has been nearly $8,000, which has literally allowed these special events and services to take place. They have staffed the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center since before the expansion and renovation, and after the expansion, began operating the LCIC book and gift store. They later began operating the North Head Lighthouse Keeper’s Gift Store. "Revenue from the gift stores has supported the parks significantly," said Parks Interpretive Specialist Steve Wood. The Friends adopted Benson Beach at LBA to help with annual volunteer beach cleanups. The Friends have supported LBA volunteers by reimbursing park staff for the monthly barbecues they hold to thank park volunteers. A sub-group of the Friends, Keepers of the North Head Lighthouse (Keepers), was recently formed by local citizens to generate public support to restore the North Head lighthouse. They have generated financial support through specialty retail items. The total amount of time they have contributed is difficult to estimate, but the group has dedicated 17 years worth of time and effort to support LBA parks.
SIGNIFICANT VOLUNTEER ACHIEVEMENT
• Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust (Lake Sammamish Area, Wash.) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving lands alongside I-90 from Seattle to Snoqualmie Pass and beyond. The Trust has accomplished much of its work at Lake Sammamish State Park. Through an Adopt-A-Park agreement, the Trust developed a nursery to plant, water, weed and pot native plants for future use along the I-90 corridor. Members potted native trees and shrubs boasting an inventory of 23,000 plants. The group involved a significant number of local students and corporate groups in restoration and maintenance along Issaquah Creek and planted trees at two Lake Sammamish State Park volunteer events. Some of the major projects the group was involved with include the Snoqualmie Tunnel grand re-opening celebration, rebuilding retaining walls at Olallie State Park and made tread improvements along sections of the Twin Falls trail. The group has provided decades of trail improvement and restoration at Iron Horse State Park-John Wayne Pioneer Trail and improved the 12-mile Squak Mountain trail system, including installing more than 65 trail signs, raised 800 feet of turnpike trail above wet areas, performed stabilization work on equestrian trails and installed 150 drain dips to keep water off trails. The benefits of all these hours of labor, while clearly felt in these area parks, also go to the public. Instead of facing unbroken urban development while traveling on I-90, all are rewarded with a continuous, beautiful green corridor.
• HDR (Seattle, Wash.) is an employee-owned architecture, engineering and consulting firm from Seattle. During the summer of 2010, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) cook shelter at Deception Pass State Park was restored through both a generous donation and the help of volunteer support. The shelter had been damaged as a result of more than 80 years of recreational use and northwest weathering. HDR’s technical staff offered expertise in log structure restoration techniques, and HDR volunteers performed hands-on construction work, which included splitting cedar shakes from salvaged old-growth cedars, removing deteriorating logs, cutting and chiseling upright log posts to fit tight, and reroofing the entire structure. This is actually the second such restoration project this group has completed. In 2009, HDR restored another CCC kitchen shelter at Deception Pass.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 parks and several recreation programs, including trails, boating safety, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The 99-year-old park system will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.