LETTER: State system badly shortchanged —

LETTER: State system badly shortchanged

By Joanna Grist
Tacoma News Tribune

Re: “Ex-Seattle parks chief joins State Parks commission” (TNT, 2-23).

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is delighted to hear that Ken Bounds was appointed to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. There are incredible contradictions in the current challenges facing state parks, and we need experienced advocates to solve them.

We have one of the most successful user-pay systems in the country, yet those fees cannot be both affordable for average parkgoers and high enough to raise enough funds to meet the system’s needs.

Most perplexing is that there is probably not a single elected official who doesn’t think the Washington State Parks system deserves more operating budget dollars, yet the agency constantly finds itself nickled and dimed in the state budget process.

The agency has been directed to function more like a business, yet no company would ever go into the State Parks business expecting a profit. We would like to see some real legislative commitment – and action – to protect our iconic state parks system.

I had the privilege of working with Bounds as a parks commissioner when he was superintendent of the Seattle Parks Department and have witnessed firsthand his ability to address complex problems facing our state lands.

The state parks system has done excellent work to date modernizing the agency for the 21st century. Bounds’ experience will help enhance that work, and he will make the case to our elected officials for increased parks funding.

(Grist is executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.)

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