WideOpenSpaces’ Top 25 State Parks

WideOpenSpaces has posted their top 25 state parks in America.  But then there are over 10,000 to choose from ….


CA State Parks Bring Live Field Trips into Classroom Virtually


In order to provide unique, hands-on learning experiences for children, California State Parks has been working to expand its distance learning program, PORTS(Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Schools).

PORTS is a collaboration with innovative ed tech companies to provide one-of-a-kind learning experiences for teachers and students. For instance, in a partnership with Belkin Education, a networking and accessories company, PORTS is offering real-time virtual field trips in 10 California state parks, conducted by state park rangers. Units of study include kelp forests, redwood ecology, monarch butterfly migration and historical subjects like the Gold Rush.

Full story >>

NRPA’s Top 5 Predictions for Parks and Recreation in 2017


1 – Parks Are Everywhere.

2 – Want to Live Longer? Live Near Parks.

3 – Data Will Drive Budgets.

4 – Conservation Will Become as Important as Recreation.

5 – Virtual Reality Tours Will Replace Maps and Brochures. 

More details …

Public/Private Effort To Establish First Lodge and Conference Center in WA State Parks

Commission approves lease agreement

to save Saint Edward Seminary building

Daniels Real Estate will invest nearly $50 million to rehab historic building; associated land exchange will add acres and trails to state park


OLYMPIA – Jan. 9, 2017 – In an historic decision today, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to accept a 62-year lease with Daniels Real Estate of Seattle to rehabilitate the Saint Edward Seminary Building at Saint Edward State Park near Kenmore.

As part of the agreement, Daniels agreed to purchase a 9.7-acre private property that lies adjacent to the park and transfer it to State Parks in exchange for adaptive re-use of the building as a lodge. The property adds to the park’s acreage and natural area along Lake Washington and allows the agency to appropriately manage trails as part of Saint Edward State Park.

“This project to rehabilitate Saint Edward Seminary will be a great value to the state of Washington ” said Steve Milner, Commission chair. “Thanks to Daniels, our staff and the public who participated in our very thorough public process, we are going to be able to change a significant liability into an asset for our state. Our state’s population continues to grow, and Saint Edward and the Seminary are in an urban area. I think the historic structure will draw new people into the park and introduce them, not only to the historic features but the natural aesthetic of the park and our state.”

“We’re very excited to know that this incredible iconic building will be saved for the public to enjoy,” said Don Hoch, agency director. “We’re grateful to Daniels for his ongoing commitment and for his generosity and passion for historic projects and the public benefit they provide.”

Kevin Daniels expressed his enthusiasm for what he says is a unique and challenging project. “It was  satisfying to see the overwhelming support for the project,” Daniels said. “It’s also been enjoyable meeting and talking with the people in the community of Kenmore, realizing that the park and this project are very important to them. We’re all going to be working together on something special for our state and future generations.”

The Commission had a special public meeting on Thursday evening in Kenmore to take final public comment on the proposal, then convened a special meeting today in Olympia for consideration on the decision. The special meeting included a conference line at Kenmore City Council so that interested public could listen in.

More than 200 people attended the Thursday public meeting, with a large majority voicing supporting of the project. Some testimony included concerns over specifics of the lease, including the amount of outdoor education space provided and issues around parking revenue. Staff subsequently met with Daniels and addressed these concerns, providing lease refinements to the Commission prior to their decision today. The lease and amendments are available online:http://parks.state.wa.us/154/Commission-Meetings-Agendas.

Following the special meeting today, Kevin Daniels and State Parks Director Don Hoch signed the lease agreement and the property transfer. Once the property transfer is finalized, the lease will take effect.

State Parks acquired Saint Edward State Park in 1977. Since that time, the agency has explored a number of ideas for preservation, rehabilitation and re-use of the park’s iconic Seminary Building and grounds. In September 2014, the Commission considered management options ranging from building demolition to rehabilitation—and adopted rehabilitation as its preferred option.

The Commission determined it would need to enter a partnership with a private or public entity to secure the capital investment needed to successfully rehabilitate the building. Any project would be required to align with the State Parks mission.

It is anticipated that the lease agreement will generate additional annual revenue for State Parks through new Discover Pass sales and approximately $260,000 per year through access fees paid by overnight lodge guests.

For more information and background on the Saint Edward Seminary planning process, visit:http://parks.state.wa.us/857/Saint-Edward-Planning—Seminary

Record Participation in the Guided First Day Hikes In America’s State Parks


American’s Enjoy the Guided Hikes in State Parks on January 1

Across the nation thousands of Americans started 2017 off on the “right foot” by attending a First Day Hike in America’s State Parks. On January 1, 2017, more than 1,300 First Day Hikes were offered in all 50 states from Alaska to Florida to 61,800 participants covering over 111,850 miles.

“America’s state parks offer diverse and unique natural and cultural resources. First Day Hikes are a way park rangers, naturalists and volunteers can bring history to life and share their insights of nature,” said Ellen Graham, First Day Hikes Coordinator and Chief Naturalist, Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites.

Iowa almost tripled the number of participants and miles hiked in 2016. This year they added nine new parks and the annual event is becoming a family friendly tradition with returning hikers in spite of the 30-degree temperatures. As a hiker in a Washington State Park stated, “I like walking in the park in the winter, no snakes and no bugs, and it is so quiet I can hear my heartbeat.”

Despite temperatures that never got above freezing in South Dakota, they saw the highest attendance in six years. Two parks got out the snowshoes and one even had cross-country skiers! In Montana with sub-zero temperatures and heavy falling snow in many areas, there were hearty souls hiking along the trails. Over 700 hikers braved 5-12 inches of snow in in New Hampshire parks and enjoyed the winter wildlife, spotting 3 bald eagles.

In Hawaii some hikers began their trek to see the sunrise at 2:30 a.m. over the ocean with views of Molokai and Maui from 560-foot cliff top perches. Several states hosted fun runs and fitness challenges. In Indiana there were over 200 participants for a 3.5 mile run.

As an Arkansas hiker stated, “We were here last year and enjoyed it so much we wanted to come back this year!”


The National Association of State Park Directors promotes and advocates for the state park systems across America in providing for conservation and management of natural and cultural resources, quality outdoor recreation experiences, connecting children and families to nature and the outdoors, and more. With more than 10,200 park areas and visitation of 760 million annually, the economic impact to local communities is estimated to exceed $20 billion each year. America’s State Parks is an alliance of state park systems in all 50 states.

Below is a brief video link from Hawaii on their pre-dawn hike, as well as a sampling of the media reports from various states.

AL http://www.annistonstar.com/news/state/rain-starts-new-year-dampens-mount-cheaha-hike/article_8b727f68-d084-11e6-bea9-53e886f1a078.html
AZ http://www.havasunews.com/news/first-day-hikes-boat-rides-a-hit-with-participants/article_389939e4-d0b6-11e6-83ae-ab53e83bfb24.html
IL http://www.newstrib.com/free/volunteer-serves-and-defends-starved-rock-promotes-park-etiquette/article_0707e67a-d0eb-11e6-9146-bfcc32c1aa45.html
IA http://www.thehawkeye.com/news/local/large-crowd-hikes-lake-darling-state-park/article_81a22c90-6bb9-5ddd-92fe-3f50f52edf62.html
FL http://staugustine.com/news-local-news/2017-01-02/new-year-new-look-nature
KS http://www.hutchnews.com/eedition/page-a/page_f7c7dc42-2a10-5c69-82a6-b0efbad2423f.html
MD http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/environment/ph-ac-cn-first-day-0102-20170101-story.html
MN http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/4190598-first-day-hikers-burn-calories-snowshoes-jay-cooke-state-park
MO http://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/local/columbia-residents-venture-to-rock-bridge-state-park-for-first/article_270c9f16-d059-11e6-9285-8b16098182a2.html
NHhttp://www.concordmonitor.com/new-years-nh-first-day-hikes-7212679PA http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-pa-first-day-hike-jacobsburg-20170101-story.html
NJ http://www.njherald.com/20170102/a-walk-in-the-woods-to-start-the-new-year#
NM http://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/local/2017/01/01/hikers-walk-nature-new-years-trek/96071810/
NY  http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2017/01/01/hundreds-mark-launch-2017-stroll-walkway/96063914/
NC  http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/durham-news/article124095069.html
PA http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-pa-first-day-hike-jacobsburg-20170101-story.html
SD  http://www.blackhillsfox.com/content/news/First-day-hikes-gaining-populartiy-in-the-Hills-409205845.html
TN http://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/local/2017/01/01/chickasaw-state-park-starts-year-first-day-hike/96022800/
TX  http://www.heralddemocrat.com/news/20170101/take-hike



MT – Montana State Parks Experience Record Attendance for Fourth Straight Year

Flathead Lake state parks drew the most visitors in Montana during peak season

The outdoors are more popular than ever in Northwest Montana.

Alongside record visitation at Glacier National Park, the state parks across this region and all of Montana experienced record attendance in 2016, according to annual data released last week.

Montana State Parks drew more than 2.65 million visits in 2016, a 7 percent increase over 2015, according to statistics released by the state agency. The annual tally marks the fourth consecutive year of record visitation. Statewide visitation is up 33 percent over five years ago and 39 percent over the decade.


Court upholds gun ban in Delaware state parks


A Delaware Superior Court judge upheld a ban on carrying firearms in state parks and forests for purposes other than hunting.

The challenge to the rule was brought by multiple plaintiffs, including the Bridgeville Rifle and Pistol Club – a 1,200 member organization in southern Delaware. In a civil complaint, they argued the administrative codes are “inconsistent with and pre-empted by” both state law and the state Constitution.

The rifle club noted its members often like to camp at Trap Pond State Park or rent a cottage at Seashore State Park during nearby shooting competitions yet they are unable to do so because of the ban. Plaintiffs also argued a need exists to carry firearms for protection.

“A deprivation of constitutional rights can constitute irreparable harm,” the civil complaint stated.

Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves said in his ruling the regulations do not run “afoul” of the Delaware Constitution, nor did they contradict state law passed by the General Assembly.

Full article, legal suit