Inside our parks If you are looking for something to do on your day off Monday, consider visiting a park. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, admission to state parks and federal lands will be free.
People visiting any of the more than 100 state parks will not need a Discover Pass ($10 daily, $30 annual) to get in. That includes locales like Millersylvania, Kopachuck, Flaming Geyser, Dash Point, Manchester, Belfair and Westhaven state parks.
Federal agencies taking part in the fee-free day are the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management. That means there will be no admission charges for places such as Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks, and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
GRANTS AID STATE PARK
Grants from Grays Harbor and Mason counties, utilizing money from county lodging tax funds, will pay for fabrication and installation of highway historical marker signs for Schafer State Park and for advertising to promote the fall festival at Lake Sylvia State Park.
Officials with The Friends of Schafer and Lake Sylvia said a $2,400 grant from Mason County (Schafer State Park) and the $2,500 grant from Grays Harbor County (Lake Sylvia State Park) will increase visitation, which will help the parks and the local economy.
All state parks pay local government lodging taxes in accordance with state law. Schafer State Park paid almost $2,000 to Mason County in a recent two-year period, and Lake Sylvia State Park paid $3,700 to Grays Harbor County in the same period. The friends group wanted some of those monies to come back and help the parks in these difficult times.
“We are very grateful to Mason and Grays Harbor counties for awarding us these grants,” Trina Young, a volunteer with the friends group, said in a prepared statement. “We hope that our efforts will help a little.”
NEWEST NATIONAL PARK
America has a new national park. On Jan. 11, the country’s 59th national park was established, elevating Pinnacles National Monument to Pinnacles National Park.
Rising out of the Gabilan Mountains east of central California’s Salinas Valley, Pinnacles is the result of millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement. Within the park’s boundaries lie nearly 27,000 acres of diverse wild lands. Visitors can enjoy a variety of spring wildflowers and more than 400 species of native bees. The Pinnacles rock formations are a popular destination to challenge technical and beginner climbers.
Designated as a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the park will not change management with the legislation, said a Park Service news release. The Pinnacles National Park Act recognizes the broader significance of park resources, specifically the chaparral, grasslands, blue oak woodlands, and majestic valley oak savanna ecosystems of the area; the area’s geomorphology, riparian watersheds, unique flora and fauna; and the ancestral and cultural history of Native Americans, settlers and explorers.
The park also is known as an incubator of America’s fragile population of California condors. It is one of three condor release sites in the country and the only release site in a national park. Pinnacles has been a partner of the California Condor Recovery Program since 2003. The park manages 31 free-flying condors.
Learn more about the new national park at nps.gov/pinn.