Dinosaur Tower. Photo by Mark Webster.
||Peshastin State Park may escape mothball
Although it was purchased and developed as a State Park specifically devoted to rock climbing, the Washington State Parks planned to "mothball" Peshastin State Park. However, the WCC has a tentative agreement with parks to keep it open.
Q: What would it mean to "mothball" Peshastin?
A: The park property would remain open for public use and it would be legal to enter the park and climb. However, all services at the park would be ceased. The parking gates would be closed and the toilets locked. So, to climb at Peshastin, you'd have to legally park somewhere outside the park (e.g., arrange to get dropped off and picked up, or bike in). State Parks might take some minimal actions to preserve park resources during a mothball, such as watering the trees in the picnic area.
Q: How likely is a mothball scenario and on what does it depend?
A: Until May 2011 it looked about 95% certain. State Parks is by and large funded from monies appropriated from the state's "General Fund." The General Fund, in turn, is funded significantly from sales tax revenues, which have been down (and falling short of projections) during the down economy.
Peshastin was one of six State Parks identified for mothballing under a 10% budget reduction scenario the State Parks & Recreation Commission had to provide to the Governor in preparation for the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget. However, the WCC has been talking with State Parks about paying for maintenance at the toilet facility so the Park can remain open.
Q: When would the mothball start?
A: It would not become effective until the start of the FY 2011 budget year, which begins July 1, 2011.
Q: How long can we expect Peshastin to remain in mothballed status? Is it just the first step toward a permanent closure?
A: If mothballed, it might be 2-4 years before Peshastin "reopens" depending on the budget situation. State Parks confirms that the mothball decision does not mean Peshastin is headed toward a permanent closure. State Parks recognizes that Peshastin is a statewide resource, drawing users from around the state. This distinguishes Peshastin from some other State Parks that have recently been transferred to county and city governments.
Q: Can't we just keep the parking gate open? We really don't need toilets...
A: State Parks didn't give an outright "no" to this, but is concerned that sanitation issues may well arise given the typical climber visit time. These issues may be compounded in Peshastin's shrub-steppe environment.
Q: Is there any way we can keep Peshastin open through volunteer efforts?
A: Yes. State Parks is open to working with the WCC and other groups (maybe including neighbors of the park) to "open" the park through a combination of: 1) volunteers who would open and shut the parking gate, unlock/lock the toilets, and occasionally run the sprinklers; 2) user groups covering the cost of toilet pumping/maintenance; and 3) volunteers keeping the park clean. Realistically, this probably means opening the park at least on weekends during the peak spring and fall seasons. The biggest challenge would be in scheduling a roster of volunteers to commit to the locking and unlocking duties. The toilets would probably only need to be pumped one time per year (in the spring), with the cost probably running about $400+. Porta-potties might be another option if cheaper.
Q: So what's next?
A: The WCC and State Parks are working toward a solution as of June 2011.
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