July 9 is Washington State National Parks Day in King County
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council today today declared Monday, July 9, 2012 as Washington State National Parks Day in recognition of the economic, health, and environmental benefits that county residents received from the National Parks in our region.
“King County is uniquely placed between three major National Parks – Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Olympic National Park,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, sponsor of the proclamation. “Because of our close proximity to these national gems, King County residents benefit from access to nature and from the economic gains these Parks produce through tourism.”
“Thanks to the abundant recreation opportunities in our national parks, local residents as well as visitors have access to valuable resources for outdoor physical fitness activities,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, vice chair of the Board of Health. “Our national parks contribute immeasurably to the quality of life we enjoy in the Northwest.”
“Our national parks help keep our region economically vibrant, permanently green, and a great place to live and play,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “Raising awareness about the importance of these national treasures and sending the message to Congress to keep our national parks protected and well-maintained is critical for our quality of life.”
Millions of people visit National Parks in Washington State each year, many of them traveling from outside the state and country. These visitors contribute to local economies surrounding the parks, including King County.
“Washington has wonderful National Parks, which are vitally important, not just from an economic and environmental perspective, but also in terms of our identity as a region,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. “As a Washington State native, I have visited the National Parks in our state, and I know that their natural beauty and splendor are part of what makes this such a great place to live.”
According to the National Park Service (NPS), Washington State received more than $264 million in economic benefits from tourism related to National Park units in 2010. And because summer is the busiest season for tourism to these parks, King County and Washington State will receive large economic gains during these warm-weathered months.
National Parks also provide King County residents access to nature and outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking and camping. These activities are fundamental to people throughout the region and help strengthen families and social bonds.
Despite the benefits of National Parks, including health benefits and the creation of jobs, funding for the NPS has been cut in recent years and the NPS is in jeopardy of deeper cuts in 2013. Yet, according to the National Parks Conservation Association, every dollar invested in park operations generates approximately $10 in gross sales revenue, highlighting that funding for National Parks is a sound investment.
“People travel from all over the country and world to visit our National Parks,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “It is imperative we continue to fund these parks and keep them in the pristine condition we see them in today for future generations to enjoy.”
“Further cuts to National Parks will have tangible effects upon our region”, Councilmember Patterson said. “Such cuts could force parks to shorten hours or close campgrounds and visitor centers, and reduce the number of rangers that we rely on to keep visitors safe and help them enjoy their park experiences.”
WHEREAS, King County is centrally located between three major national parks: Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Olympic National Park; and
WHEREAS, these national parks preserve the pristine condition of the land and provide areas free from environmental disruption; and
WHEREAS, King County residents benefit from the health and recreational advantages of easy access to these parks, including outdoor activities, camping, and the mental health benefits of being in nature; and
WHEREAS, because of its close proximity to three national parks, King County also receives significant economic benefits through tourism and the creation of jobs; and
WHEREAS, the budget for the National Park Service has experienced reductions in recent years and remains at risk of deep cuts during the current economic downturn; and
WHEREAS, preserving funding for national parks and the National Park Service is sound public policy, as it ensures public access to nature and generates economic gains; and
WHEREAS, summer is the peak visiting season for national parks, and the coming months will create economic benefits for King County and the region through tourism;
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, proclaim July 9, 2012, as
WASHINGTON STATE NATIONAL PARKS DAY
in King County, in recognition of the many health, economic, and environmental benefits that these parks provide to county residents and visitors.
DATED this ninth day of July, 2012.
Sean Smith, Policy Director for the Northwest Regional Office of the
National Parks Conservation Association, joins Councilmembers after the Council declared July 9, 2012 as Washington State National Parks Day in King County.