Larrabee, Birch Bay, Peace Arch parks may close starting Monday

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 25, 2013 

The three state parks in Whatcom County will be closed as part of the government shutdown if the state Legislature doesn't agree on a budget by Sunday, June 30.

"No ifs, ands or buts," said Virginia Painter, spokeswoman for Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

That would mean no hiking, picnics or camping, potentially through the July 4 holiday.

State parks employees are among those who have been told they will be furloughed if a deal isn't reached in time.

As a result, all state parks will be shut down - including Larrabee, Birch Bay and Peace Arch in Whatcom County.

"It would mean that gates would be closed Sunday night and would not reopen on (Monday) July 1," Painter said.

Among the impact would be to those who already have reserved park space or campgrounds.

Officials are trying to figure out how to process a full refund or how to go about asking people to request one, among other issues, Painter said.

They are working out the details still, Painter said, but are echoing Gov. Jay Inslee's belief that state legislators will craft a budget deal before the deadline, averting a shutdown.

"We're all hoping for that," Painter said.

Washington Trails Association, which advocates for trails and hikers, has posted a notice on its Facebook page about the possible closure.

"I think that most people either haven't heard the news yet, or they're hopeful their legislators come to a budget agreement by the 30th," said Susan Elderkin, spokeswoman for the trails association.

She said that given that next week is the Fourth of July holiday - when nearly all state park campgrounds will be at capacity - there could be "plenty of surprised and irked" campers and hikers if state parks are closed.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com.

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