Opinion

As state parks hit the century mark, join in celebration | Publisher's column

Can you imagine Whidbey Island without its parks?

Luckily, none of us has to.

On Saturday, Aug. 3, a celebration is planned at Deception Pass State Park, the grandaddy of all state parks, located in our own backyard here on Whidbey Island.

During the 1970s, a friend’s mom would drive the three of us from Anacortes to swim lessons, which were taught at Cranberry Lake. This was in the morning, and the lake was still always under a canopy of shade and the sand damp.

In the cold lake, before the sun rose overhead and the crowds swarmed to the beach, we learned first not to be afraid of getting our faces wet, then the crawl stroke and back float. The raft past the roped-in swimming area seemed miles away.

These are my earliest memories of the park.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, the state Parks and Recreation Commission is holding a day of family fun at Deception Pass State Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Washington state park system.

This event takes place in the East Cranberry Lake area near the entrance of the park. A Discover Pass is required to enter the park for the celebration.

The day-long event is sponsored by the Deception Pass Park Foundation, a nonprofit, community-based organization whose mission is to support education and resource protection at Deception Pass State Park.

Over a number of years, as a reporter, I covered a number of stories at Deception Pass park. Among the first was a feature about storytelling in the amphitheater. Gathered around a fire, listeners enjoyed local folklore brought to life with a dramatic reading and masks. For that article I won one of my first awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.

Another time, I toured the park with one of the original members of the Civilian Conservation Corps and learned firsthand how the group built everything from the rustic railings along the roads to the many shelters, trails and roads inside the park.

The CCC was created by an act of Congress in 1923 to create jobs during the Depression era. To this day, we are the beneficiaries of the CCC’s legacy.

After the Inauguration Day Storm of 1993, I again took a tour of the park, that time with a ranger. Massive trees were twisted by the incredible winds and snapped like twigs. The damage was incredible, and while roads were cleared and structures subsequently repaired, I can still see evidence of the storm’s wrath from the highway as I pass by.

An estimated 1.75 million people visit Deception Pass State Park each year, making it a huge draw to the island and a major contributor to the North Whidbey economy.

Whidbey Island is blessed with some pretty magnificent state parks, including Ebey’s Landing Historic Reserve, Joseph Whidbey State Park, South Whidbey State Park and Fort Casey State Park.

Our state parks are definitely a resource worth preserving and celebrating.

 

Keven R. Graves is executive editor and publisher of the Whidbey News-Times. Email to him at kgraves@whidbeynewsgroup.com

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