2011 11 17 detailed Commission agenda items

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2011 11 17 detailed Commission agenda items Powered By Docstoc
					WASHINGTON STATE PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
   Nov. 17, 2011 – 9 a.m., Cama Beach State Park, 1880 SW Camano Drive, Camano
    Island, WA 98282

Detailed Commission Agenda Items
Item E-1:    Willapa Hills Trailhead and Chehalis-BNSF Railroad – perpetual easement
Item E-2:    The Cove – Cooperative Management with Grant County Public Utility
             District
Item E-3:    Capital budget request
Item E-4:    Bridging the gap – a statement from the Washington State Parks and
             Recreation Commission
Item E-5:    Agency audit update
Item E-6:    2010-2011 Winter Recreation Program annual report
Item E-7:    Camano Island State Park salt marsh estuary restoration proposal update
Item E-8:    Preparing for the special Legislative session and beyond – Discover Pass,
             agency budget and transformation
Item E-1:      Willapa Hills Trailhead at Chehalis – Burlington Northern Santa
               Fe Rail Road – Perpetual Easement - Requested Action/Expedited

ACTION TAKEN: Approved as presented.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This item asks the Washington State Parks and Recreation
Commission to approve a request from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail Road to upgrade an
existing underground power conduit to a signal station along their railroad track mainline in
Chehalis, Washington. This item complies with our Centennial 2013 Plan element “Our
Commitment – Financial Strategy” and with our core values.

SIGNIFICANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Willapa Hills Trail was acquired
from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail Road (BNSF) via the Rails to Trails Conservancy
program in 1993. The eastern terminus of the trail is just south of exit 79 in Chehalis,
Washington and extends westerly approximately 56 miles to the western terminus at South Bend,
Washington.

The eastern terminus in Chehalis is being developed as a trailhead for hikers, bikers, horse
trailers etc. Prior to the development of the trailhead State Parks notified BNSF that they were
trespassing on Parks property. BNSF for years had been using this location as one of their main
access points for track and signal box maintenance. BNSF, according to their area road master,
assumed that they still owned this portion of the property. During the period in which BNSF
thought they owned the site they installed new wiring for their signal station. The signal station
is not within Parks ownership however, the new (replacement) electrical line is on Parks
property. Staff informed BNSF that they were in trespass. BNSF has subsequently had the area
surveyed and has made application for a perpetual easement. Additionally, BNSF requires
perpetual ingress/egress for maintenance of track[s] and signal stations at the Chehalis access
point.

BNSF intends to use this access point for ingress, egress and for the electrical easement to power
the signal station. BNSF has received a $500,000,000 grant for high speed rail improvements on
this mainline between Seattle and Portland. This access point will be used extensively over the
next few years for track improvement projects and signal station upgrades. BNSF and its
contractors will ask for a right of entry to cross this area for construction purposes.

COMPENSATION: BNSF has agreed to pay a onetime fee of thirty thousand ($30,000)
dollars.
SUPPORTING INFORMATION:
Appendix 1: Location Map
Appendix 2: Aerial

REQUESTED ACTION OF COMMISSION:
That the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission:
1. Authorize the Director or designee to grant BNSF a perpetual easement to install and
     maintain an electrical power line and allow ingress and egress across the Willapa Hills
     Trailhead property at Chehalis in Lewis County.
________________________________________________________________________
              Author/Contact(s): Steve Hahn, Lands Program Manager,
                                     steve.hahn@parks.wa.gov, 360-902-8683
                                     Lynn Harmon, Property & Acquisition Specialist 4,
                                     lynn.harmon@parks.wa.gov, 360-902-8656

                                    APPENDIX 1
                                   LOCATION MAP
             4




APPENDIX 2
 AERIAL
                            5




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                                                                                             6




Item E-2: The Cove – Cooperative Management with Grant County Public
          Utility District – Requested Action
ACTION TAKEN: Approved as requeste.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This item asks the Washington State Parks and Recreation
Commission to authorize the Director or his designee to develop a co-operative management
agreement with Grant County Public Utility District for the interim operation of The Cove
recreation site, while long range site planning occurs. This item complies with our Centennial
2013 Plan element, “Our Commitment – Public Service” and with our core values.
SIGNIFICANT BACKGROUND: Since 1999, State Park staff has been working with other
state and federal agencies, Grant County Public Utility District (PUD), and stakeholders to
develop recreation enhancement recommendations for the Priest Rapids Hydroelectric Project
license.
The Final License Application identified Getty’s Cove (The Cove) as recreational property
sheltered from the frequent high winds in the area that features a grassy, shaded camping area.
The site historically receiving heavy use, particularly on concert weekends at the Gorge
Amphitheater. The facilities are more primitive and less developed compared to other
campgrounds.
In recent years the State Parks and Recreation Commission has endorsed the concept of co-
operative management as an option in the strategies to manage recreational lands, as they
reviewed alternatives to parkland transfers.
The Cove is a 96.5 acre site. Interim management of the site provides the opportunity to
evaluate the best location for future recreation expansion, when considered in conjunction with
State Park’s Wanapum Recreation Area, at Ginkgo State Park, and the potential development of
a new PUD recreation area at the Vantage, Airstrip Site.
While the PUD facilitates the comprehensive development plan for submittal to the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2015, interim operation of The Cove may include
seasonal day use, with an orientation toward developing public appreciation of the natural
resources. A nesting pair of Bald Eagles would be interpreted through multi-media, while
protected by a management plan. Picnicking and hand launching of non-motorized water craft
will occur. Working with non-profit organizations, other agencies, tribes, and the PUD, State
Park’s staff believes this location has potential for programs and events with a natural and
cultural resource orientation.
Recommendation: It is the recommendation of staff that developing a co-management
agreement for The Cove is an opportunity to create a model for expanding public recreation and
resource stewardship, in a financially sustainable way, utilizing the most efficient use of the
operational resources two or more entities have available.
For consistency with the Discover Pass legislative direction and simplification of the public
message on Discover Pass requirements, staff recommends that the Discover Pass be required at
The Cove, under any cooperative management with State Parks. Cooperative management
                                                                                                7



agreement language would recognize the financial value of the discover Pass to State Parks and
seek a financial arrangement that is acceptable to both entities.
AUTHORITY:
RCW 39.34.010 Declaration of purpose – Interlocal Cooperation Act: Permits government units
to make efficient use of their powers by cooperation with other localities on a basis of mutual
advantage.
RCW 39.34.020 Definitions – Interlocal Cooperation Act: Public agency means any … quasi
municipal corporations, special purpose districts, and local service districts …
SUPPORTING INFORMATION:
Appendix 1: Location and Vicinity Maps
Appendix 2: Schematic Park Map
Appendix 3: Aerial Photo
REQUESTED ACTION OF COMMISSION:
Staff requests that the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission:
    1. The Commission authorizes the Director or designee to develop and enter into a
    cooperative         management agreement with Grant County Public Utility District for the
    interim operation of        The Cove recreation site.
    2. The Commission directs that any cooperative management agreement, expanding State
    Parks       operations onto Grant County Public Utility District lands, will result in no cost
    beyond those        off-set by revenue received, as stipulated in an agreement mutually
    accepted by State Parks and the PUD.
    3. The Commission directs that implementation of the Discover Pass at The Cove is a
        requirement of any interim cooperative management agreement.
    ___________________________________________________________________
        Author/Contact (s): Jim Harris, Eastern Region Director
                                jim.harris@parks.wa.gov (509) 665-4315
                                                          8



                        Appendix 1


    Ginkgo Petrified Forest
         State Park




                                      Columbia River



    Wanapum
 Recreational Area


The Cove                             Grant County PUD’s
Formally Getty’s Cove                  Wanapum Dam




  Iron Horse/JWPT
                                         9



                            Appendix 2




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Item E-3: 2013-2015 Capital Budget Request Level - Requested Action

ACTION TAKEN: Approved as presented.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This item asks the Washington State Parks and Recreation
Commission to establish a target level for its 2013-2015 capital budget request and to provide
direction for categorical prioritization of projects. This item complies with our Centennial 2013
Plan element, “Our Commitment – Stewardship” and with our core values.

SIGNIFICANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION: In every odd numbered year the
Washington State Legislature considers passage of a Capital Budget to support construction
projects for state agencies. Requests from agencies are typically due to the Office of Financial
Management in August of the preceding even numbered year. A schedule for 2013-2015 capital
budget preparation for Washington State Parks is attached as Appendix 1.

In making decisions regarding adoption of a capital budget request past Commissions have
debated essentially two options:

   1. Size the capital budget request to match what we think economic conditions will allow us
      to receive from the legislature plus a little more.

   2. Use the capital budget request as a means to reflect the significant State Parks capital
      project backlog to renovate and expand the system realizing we won’t get funded at the
      level requested.

Both options have been chosen by the Commission over the years. The table below depicts
Commission capital budget requests compared to the actual amount of direct appropriations
received for construction related projects for the past four biennia.


                            Capital Budget Requests vs. Received
                                                                                                 11




     $120,000,000                                $106,295,000
                                   $98,824,000
     $100,000,000                                               $84,000,000
                     $75,628,000
       $80,000,000                                                                   Requested
                                        $52,959,000                                  Received
       $60,000,000
                          $33,120,000                                                %
       $40,000,000                                     $25,462,000
                                                                       $16,000,000
       $20,000,000             44%           54%           24%                19%
                $0
                      2005-2007     2007-2009     2009-2011      2011-2013


The numbers above reflect only new capital budget dollars appropriated directly to the
Commission for construction projects. Total capital budget appropriations are larger and also
include budgeted capital program support and indirect costs, reappropriation of construction
funds from prior biennia, funds for other purposes such as federal support for boat pump-outs,
and certain grants and spending authority for the Parkland Acquisition Account to name a few.
Capital project funds are also appropriated by the legislature to the Recreation and Conservation
Office (RCO) for grant programs such as the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program
(WWRP) and the Boating Facilities Program. State Parks receives funds from these programs
through project by project contracts between State Parks and the RCO.

Establishing a 2013-2015 Capital Budget Request Level
The development of individual capital project requests is a time consuming task for both region
and headquarters staff if done correctly. In light of recent reductions staff does not recommend
that the Commission use the 2013-2015 capital budget request as a means of expressing the
overall facility renovation and expansion needs of the agency. The Commission will be asked to
consider and make a statement about long term agency capital budget needs and priorities as part
of the Transformation Strategy. Staff recommends that the Commission set a target request
level of $40,000,000, not including capital program support and indirect costs, for its 2013-2015
capital budget request. Staff believes that a request target at this level will allow room for
submission of projects related to public and employee health and safety and projects supporting
the preservation or enhancement of revenue generation.

Setting Priorities for Project Categories in the 2013-2015 Capital Budget Request
The legislature has made Washington State Parks a “fee for service” agency by removing
virtually all General Fund operating support. The Commission has no choice but to assume and
plan for this being a long term condition. Some immediate outcomes that arise from planning for
a future without General Fund support are:

1. The need to maximize Discover Pass sales and compliance.
2. The need to reduce operating costs while providing a state park visitor experience that the
   public will choose to use.
                                                                                                    12



3. The need for an agency financial plan that creates a sustainable park system through
   donations, Discover Pass sales, fees for facility use (camping, cabins and yurts, conference
   facilities, vacation houses as examples) and land use fees.

When prioritizing its 2013-2015 Capital Budget Request staff believes that the capital program is
an important tool that must be prioritized to achieve the needs expressed above that are now the
new financial reality for the public and the agency regarding state parks in Washington.
In every case, public and employee health and safety is our moral and ethical first obligation.
Staff believes prioritizing investment of scarce capital dollars after the first priority of public and
employee health and safety requires financial return data and strategic thinking that is not yet in
place. There is however, a need to begin the selection and scoping of projects for a proposed
2013-2015 capital budget submittal. To that end staff recommends that the Commission
consider the following:
Priority Projects:
1. Projects that address instances where there is a demonstrable risk that the public or staff may
    be injured or sickened
2. Projects that serve to maximize Discover Pass sales and compliance
3. Projects that reduce operating costs
4. Projects that provide a recreation experience that the public will support and that can be
    provided with a net positive operating cost
SUPPORTING INFORMATION:
Appendix 1: Schedule for 2013-2015 Capital Budget Preparation
REQUESTED ACTION OF COMMISSION:
That the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
    1. Directs that the target request level for the 2013-2015 Capital Budget Request from the
        Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will be $40,000,000 before program
        support and indirect costs are added.

   2. Directs that the priorities for the 2013-2015 Capital Budget Request from the Washington
      State Parks and Recreation Commission are projects that support public and employee
      health and safety, or maximize Discover Pass sales and compliance, or result in visitor
      experiences that will support a financially sustainable Washington State Park system.

       Author/ Contact(s): Larry Fairleigh, Parks Development Director
                           Larry.fairleigh@parks.wa.gov       360-902-8642



                          APPENDIX 1
      SCHEDULE FOR 2013-2015 CAPITAL BUDGET PREPARATION
              ____________________________________

1. November, 2011 - Commission consideration of target request amount and categorical
   priorities
                                                                                                13



2. December 2011 - Headquarters and Region selection and initial scoping of public and
    employee health and safety projects
3. November 2011 - January 2012- Headquarters and Region data gathering and development
    of a proposed 2013-2015 capital budget strategy
4. February 8, 2012 - staff presentation of proposed 2013-2015 capital budget strategy to the
    Commission
5. February 2012 - April 2012- Headquarters and region selection of capital projects consistent
    with 2013-2015 capital budget strategy
6. May 24, 2012 - Commission consideration of staff proposed 2013-2015 capital budget
    request
7. June 2012 - July 2012 - Preparation of Commission approved 2013-2015 capital budget
    request for submittal to Office of Financial Management
8. August 2012 - submittal of Commission approved 2013-2015 capital budget request to the
    Office of Financial Management
9. December 2012 - Governor’s recommended Capital Budget released
10. January 2013 - ??- Legislature considers and adopts 2013-2015 capital budget


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Item E-4: Bridging the Gap – A Message from the Washington State Parks
          and Recreation Commission - Requested Action

ACTION TAKEN: Approved for transmittal to Commission.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This item provides background information on current and future
budgetary challenges facing Washington State Parks. This item also includes proposed short-
term actions for meeting the challenges in bridging the gap. This item complies with our
Centennial 2013 Plan element, "Our Commitment-Stewardship" and with our core values.

SIGNIFICANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Like all state agencies Washington State
Parks has been subject to significant budget reductions in the past few years. Appendix 1
provides a breakdown of operating budget versus actual revenues for the 2007-2009 biennium to
present. In response to the probability that general fund support may not be available for
Washington’s state parks in the future, the Legislature enacted an access fee program called the
Discover Pass and provided $17 million dollars of general fund support in the 2011-2013
biennium as a one-time funding “bridge” to allow time for the pass program and other agency
actions to offset the loss of general fund support. While planning for this contingency, it remains
the intention of Washington State Parks to remain a State Agency funded by the tax-paying
public, fee-paying visitors, private donors and allied agencies.

Washington State Parks and the General Fund: For the long-term the Commission believes
that general fund support is necessary in light of the public and economic benefits it provides the
state as a whole. The Commission understands that the current state financial situation does not
                                                                                                14



allow for the past level of general fund support for the Washington’s state park system. The
Commission does however believe that certain Discover Pass exemptions that represent “state
parks as a social service” should always be supported by the general fund. The current biennium
should be no exception. It is also vital that Washington State Parks continue to receive capital
budget support from the Governor’s Office and the Legislature to ensure that public health and
safety are protected and that Washington’s state parks remain a destination of uncommon quality
and value that the public will chose to use and support financially.

Bridging the Gap: The Commission must also plan for the potential that Discover Pass revenues
may not fully replace lost general fund support. The worst case planning scenario projects an
operating budget shortfall of up to $30 million dollars by the start of the 2013-2015 biennium.
This potential operating budget shortfall is comprised of the loss of the one-time $17 million
dollar general fund “bridge” as described above and the possibility of Discover Pass sales falling
below the $54 million dollar level necessary to fully replace lost general fund support. Given the
potential of a significant short-term funding shortfall, the Commission may need to take
aggressive short-term actions to “bridge the gap” until the state park system can return to a
sustainable long-term funding model.

Washington State Parks as a “Fee-for-Service” Agency: As a policy body the Commission
now finds itself facing the challenge of operating 117 state parks on a “fee-for-service” basis.
Under this new business model a sustainable Washington State Parks system must keep as many
parks open as possible and earn its operating revenue through the sale of recreational services,
and control its operating expenses through adjustment to the type and level of services and value
these present at each park. Products, services and venues will adapt in response to profit criteria
that may in some cases compete with the tradition of sustaining the most popular aspects of the
park experience. The Commission will need to be sensitive to potential impacts on Discover Pass
sales and make responsive adjustments.

The Commission feels it reasonable to assume that a decision to close parks would create a
disincentive to Discover Pass sales by introducing uncertainty to its value. Given this
uncertainty and the adverse consequences of park closures, the Commission will authorize the
use of reserve funds to forestall the necessity for park closures and provide the longest period
possible for the Discover Pass program to achieve its goals. The new challenge for elected
decision makers, the public, the Commission and its staff, is to sustain sufficient value at as
many of the parks as possible while adjusting service levels and efficiently deploying its
resources to control costs. While it is our expectation that the Discover Pass program will bridge
the gap we understand and are planning for the impact of potential revenue shortfalls in 2013-
2015. In consideration of this challenge the Commission has been discussing the details of a
Transformation Strategy that will serve as the basis for putting Washington’s state parks on a
pathway to long–term financial sustainability.

Transforming Washington State Parks: As noted earlier the Commission will need to take a
series of aggressive short-term actions to bridge a probable funding gap of unknown size and
duration until Washington’s State Parks can be returned to a sustainable long-term financial
footing. At present Washington State Parks is designed to operate and provide public recreation
                                                                                               15



experiences on a model that for the last 98 years has included a significant contribution from the
general public by way of the general fund. It is our expectation to maintain that relationship.
However, in the near term agency staff will need to implement a strategy that will out of
necessity transform Washington State Parks.

At the highest level transforming Washington’s state park system will require:

1. Acceptance on the part of the general public that:
      a. In the near term the Washington State Park system will require new revenue sources
         to fund operations or service levels and the availability of parks will decline.
      b. The right of the general public to free access to state parks, having funded their
         operations previously out of taxes, is no longer valid,
      c. A system funded exclusively with user fees will not result in a sustainable park
         system.

2. A major transformation of the business model and the decision framework used to operate
   the Washington State Parks system that continues to address the public’s expectations.

3. The hiring of skill sets not currently present in Washington State Parks and a restructuring of
   the agency staffing model that results in cost reduction while keeping state parks open and in
   a condition that the public will choose to use them.

Using a long-term Transformation Strategy as the foundation for short-term action there are a
number of steps being considered for implementation by the end of calendar year 2011.

Short-term Action Steps Towards “Bridging the Gap”: The Commission believes that it is of
paramount importance that steps be taken immediately to address the probability of having to
respond to a financial shortfall. It is staff’s intent to develop a ready-to-implement, revised
agency operating plan for Commission review by December 2011. Some major elements of that
plan will include:

1. The Immediate Creation of a Partnership Unit - the agency needs to immediately begin
   building a viable network of volunteer Friends Groups, Cooperating Associations and
   Corporate Sponsors that can assist with keeping parks open and in a condition that the public
   will choose to use them. The Partnership Unit will also provide dedicated agency focus to
   help create a much stronger Washington State Parks Foundation, generate philanthropic and
   corporate support, create an endowment of significant size, and optimize agency grant
   seeking capability.

2. Development of Marketing and Promotional Capability - a functional Washington State Park
   System now requires that the public choose to use Washington’s state parks under a fee-
   based system. At present the agency does not have the marketing and promotional capacity
   or skills required to be successful as a fee-for-service agency. This capability will also
   identify opportunities to implement corporate-sponsored projects in the centennial
   celebration.
                                                                                                  16




3. Development of Additional Business and Enterprise Capability - Washington State Parks
   does not currently have the business and enterprise capabilities necessary to operate
   successfully in a diverse, fee-for-service business model. Work has begun within existing
   staff capacity to develop an expanded program of revenue enhancement. In addition to new
   and dedicated staff resources to increase agency business and enterprise capability an
   immediate need exists to create the data development, analytical and management capability
   required to make the types of decisions necessary in a successful fee-for-service business
   model.

4. Development of New Operating and Staffing Models - It is probable that Washington State
   Parks will need to restructure its organization, staffing pattern and training programs to
   reflect the financial realities of the next few years.

In some cases these new capacities can be achieved by re-directing existing staff into higher
priority tasks. In other cases the agency will need to hire skill sets that do not exist within the
agency at this time.

The Bridge to Realistic Partnering: Washington State Parks currently hosts a variety of not-
for-profit and for-profit enterprises. Shared land and facility use with colleges, tribes, vocational
groups of various types is representative of the former type, while contracted cell phone tower,
ski hill, colleges and concession operations are just a few examples of the latter. The diverse
relationships with the general public, private donors, contractors, grantors, tribes and other
agencies results in a complex scheme of ownership, influence, rights and expectations regarding
use of state parks land and facilities. In light of recent interest in privatization of government
programs, the Commission believes it appropriate to present facts and issues that influence
policy in this regard.

Currently nearly 90 percent of the park system is funded by fees, donations, grants and dedicated
funds. Volunteers contribute more than three hundred thousand hours to the operation of the
system each year. The public has demonstrated a strong preference to dedicated forms of
support to state parks. There are at present a significant number of public and private entities
with contractual rights in our state parks. early seventy percent of park land has encumbrances
that would restrict the sale or use without replacement land purchased or funds returned. These
facts present significant complications and risks to privatization strategies involving the sale of
parks.

A report entitled Morrison Memo: Privatizing our state parks won’t work released October 22,
2009 by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy in Arizona reflects the commission’s view.
“Only a few of the parks have sufficient use to interest concessionaires in investing. But if those
parks were in any significant measure privatized the effect would be to remove the parks most
nearly able to support themselves from the system, leaving the balance of the system at an even
lower capacity.”
                                                                                                  17



While privatization through the sale of parks presents an improbable strategy, private operations
of selected operations through lease agreements remains a consideration where the public interest
is served.

PRESERVING WASHINGTON’S STATE PARK SYSTEM: The Washington State Parks
and Recreation Commission is prepared to make the choices necessary to protect the long-term
viability of Washington’s state park system. It is probable that the actions necessary to respond
to a worst case $30 million dollar revenue shortfall would result in the destabilization of the state
parks system. The Commission believes that a financially sustainable state park system will
require increased enterprise based revenue, time for the Discover Pass to gain public acceptance,
philanthropic support and some level of general fund support in the 2013-2015 biennium and
beyond.



STAFF RECOMMENDATION: There has been and continues to be a great deal of
speculation by external stakeholders and others regarding the viability of Washington State Parks
as a fee-for-service provider of state park recreation experiences. Staff recommends that the
Commission consider adoption of and distribution of this message to all interested parties.

SUPPORTING INFORMATION:

Appendix 1: Washington State Parks Operating Budget 2007-2009 to Present

REQUESTED ACTION OF COMMISSION:
That the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission:
   1. Authorizes and directs the Director to take the short-term steps necessary to protect the
       viability of Washington’s state park system, and,

   2. Adopts the contents of this document as our message to be communicated to all interested
      parties regarding the challenges facing Washington’s state park system and how the
      Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will respond to those challenges.


       Author/Contact(s):      Larry Fairleigh, Parks Development Director
                               Larry.fairleigh@parks.wa.gov 360-902-8642

Reviewer(s):
Randy Kline, SEPA REVIEW: Following review, staff has determined that the action proposed for the
Commission by staff is exempt from the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) pursuant to WAC 197-
11-800(14)(h).

Terri Heikkila, Fiscal Impact Statement: Action necessary to manage agency cash flow and balanced
budget by end of biennium.

Jim Schwartz, Assistant Attorney General: October 28, 2011
                                              18




Larry Fairleigh, Parks Development Director

Ilene Frisch, Acting Deputy Director:

Approved for Transmittal to Commission


_______________________________
Don Hoch, Director
                      APPENDIX 1
  WASHINGTON STATE PARKS OPE RATING BUDGET 2007-2009 TO
                       PRESENT




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Item E-5: Agency Audit Update - Report
ACTION TAKEN: Report only, no action requested.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This report provides a summary and update to the Washington
State Park and Recreation Commission on audit activities for the past several years. Included
within this report are a summary of the activities of the State Auditor’s Office and the agency’s
internal auditor. This item complies with our Centennial 2013 Plan elements, "Our Commitment
– Facilities, Financial Strategy and Your Legacy” and with our core values.
SIGNIFICANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION: This report is a detailed description of
each agency audit activity. The agency has been involved in a number of statewide and agency
specific audits. The agency uses each of these audits as a learning experience to effectuate
process improvement and enhanced accountability.
STATE AUDITOR ACTIVITY:
2007-09 Accountability Audit
The State Auditor’s Office (SAO) began the accountability audit in May 2009. The final report
was issued March 1, 2010 and contained two findings, one for Contracts and one for
Concessions. A status report on resolution of the two audit findings was submitted to the SAO
on October 22, 2010. Corrective Action Plans were submitted to the Office of Financial
Management (OFM) on April 27, 2010 and published as a part of OFM’s 2010 Audit Resolution
Report in December 2010. Certifications of Completion were submitted to OFM on January 20,
2011. The SAO continues to request status reports periodically.
Whistleblower Investigations
There were two investigations conducted by the Auditor and State Ethics Commission that were
whistleblower complaints. The SAO conducted a two year investigation of the Fort Flagler
Sewer System architectural and engineering contracts and public works contracts. In April 2010
the SAO provided a draft copy of their audit findings. The final audit report and agency
response was published December 6, 2010. The agency had changed it processes and
procedures, revised its contract manual and provided additional staff training to ensure proper
accountability. Additionally the exempt vacation leave policy on extended time was reviewed
and resulted in one employee’s loss of vacation time due to an inaccurate agency policy. The
policy was revised.
Statewide Reviews and Performance Audits
In lieu of individual agency accountability audits, the SAO has been conducting a number of
statewide reviews of a variety of program areas. State Parks was included in the following
audits:
      Statewide Potential Medical Insurance Premium Overpayments Review – SAO
       analyzed statewide payroll data and identified instances in which state agencies may have
       paid insurance benefits for individuals no longer employed by the agency. State Parks
       had four employees identified by SAO. The insurance payment data was reviewed and
       determined that in all instances insurance benefits provided employees was according to
       eligible rules and regulations and there was zero loss incurred by State Parks. Provided
       response to SAO February 22, 2011.
      Statewide Purchase Card Audit – SAO analyzed statewide purchase card transactions
       for calendar year 2010 to identify purchases they considered high-risk. State Parks had
       twenty-six transactions selected for detailed review. State Parks conducted a detail
       review of the twenty-six transactions on 20 purchase cards. Only one card had purchases
       in violation of state purchasing rules and regulations. The agency took prompt action to
       ensure future violations do not occur and SAO determined that its finding would not be
       included in the purchase card report. SAO completed the review in May 2011.
      Statewide Performance Based Contracting Performance Audit - Governor Gregoire
       issued Executive Order 10-07, requiring cabinet agencies to use performance-based
       contracting for new and renewed contracts. The Governor also asked the SAO to evaluate
       statewide performance-based contracting, and to assist OFM in providing training on
       performance-based contracting for state employees. Thirty-six agencies were selected to
       complete a survey and State Parks was one of sixteen agencies selected for detailed
       review. Ten capital project contracts were reviewed by the SAO. The overall assessment
       was that State Parks is doing a very good job including performance requirements as part
       of our contract requirements. They cited our architectural and engineering boiler plate
       contract language as a best practice. The final audit report is a very high level summary
       published July 1, 2011.
      Department of Licensing Master License Service Performance Audit – A
       performance audit of the Department of Licensing (DOL) Master License Service was
       performed to determine if the program was accomplishing the goals established in the
       original legislation and to identify if services to business could be improved if additional
       agencies participated. State Parks was one of thirteen agencies included in the original
       legislation. Parks provided data to SAO on licenses and permits issued by State Parks.
       They determined that Parks licenses and permits do not meet the Master License Service
       criteria and is not required to participate in the program. The final report was published
       December 20, 2010
      Modernizing Business Regulations Performance Audit - In April 2011, SAO began
       series of performance audits designed to ensure that Washington State’s business
       regulations are streamlined, transparent and consistent. State Parks was determined to be
       one of 26 state regulatory agencies that issue business permits or licenses, or inspect
       businesses. The agencies were required to compile an inventory of permits and licenses.
       Parks supplied the required data on May 31, 2011. The SAO published the inventory
       results on September 30, 2011. There has been no further contact from SAO regarding
       the next step in the series of regulatory reform performance audits to date.
      Cell Phone Performance Audit – The SAO is in the process of concluding a
       performance review of state cell phone use. The audit is intended to be a statewide
       perspective on the issue of cell phone use. They reviewed the use of more than 20,000
       cell phones and air cards provided by Verizon, Sprint and AT&T under the terms of
       master contracts with the Department of Information Services. The final report is
       expected to be published on or about October 31, 2011. The report will include an
       appendix showing the number of phones by each agency that was unused, little-used or
       regularly used during the 12-month period March 2011 through February 2011.
       Agencies were provided with information for their agency’s devices to help answer
       questions that may arise when the full report is published. State Parks is currently
       reviewing the data and determining if and what action needs to be taken. OFM is
       coordinating the statewide response to the audit and has not selected State Parks for
       further follow up.
INTERNAL AUDIT ACTIVITY:
Purchasing Audits
The internal auditor and budget staff conducted a review of the purchasing activities of the
boating and the law enforcement programs as a result of internal reviews. As a result both
program areas had special purchasing training classes and their procedures and oversight have
been strengthened.
Contract Manual Training
Participated in the review and update of the agency Contracts Manual and lead a team of staff to
develop contract file management requirements for inclusion in the Contracts Manual. The
agency conducted training on the contract file management requirements on January 5, 2011.
Boating Safety Program Financial Reviews
At the request of the Boating Safety Program, reviewed financial data submitted by Kitsap
County and the City of Poulsbo to determine compliance with their contracts with State Parks
Boating Safety Program. The review found that both entities are in compliance with contract
financial requirements.
Recreation and Conservation Office Grant Process Review
The State Parks Director requested that the agency’s process for the Recreation and Conservation
Office (RCO) Grants and determine whether a list of issues provided by the RCO Director were
valid. There are a number of positive changes suggested and where instituted while the audit
was being conducted and some issues resolved with RCO.                   The final report and
recommendations are being reviewed and also include some recommendations for RCO.
Fort Worden Park Audit
A park audit of Fort Worden has not been conducted for many years. Staff has started
conducting preliminary audit research. Due to the complexity of park operations, discussions are
in process regarding whether to do this audit in-house or contract out.


Annual Park Audits
The park audits for FY 2011 are completed. The data is in the process of being compiled and the
annual report written. The Northwest Region Budget Analyst position has been filled and
training on conducting park audits occurred on October 5, 2011 with a joint audit of Fort Ebey
State Park.

       Author/Contact(s):    Ilene Frisch, Acting Deputy Director
                             Ilene.Frisch@parks.wa.gov, (360) 902-8521


Return to top of document


Item E-6: 2010/2011 Winter Recreation Program Annual Report
ACTION TAKEN: Report only, no action requested.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This item reports and highlights the 2010-2011 Winter Recreation
program annual accomplishments. This complies with the Centennial 2013 Plan element, “Our
Commitment – A Financial Strategy, and Partnerships” and with our core values.

SIGNIFICANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION
At the June 12, 2008 meeting, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission adopted a
10-year strategic plan for the Winter Recreation Program, and directed staff to annually report
progress on implementation.

One of the Guiding Principles of the plan was that the program be more clearly integrated as a
program of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Also, an Objective of the
plan was to ensure that the program has Advisory Committees that are full partners. To these
ends, staff seeks to keep the Commission and the Advisory Committees well-informed about the
status of the Winter Recreation Program and has prepared this annual report.



              Author/Contact(s):    Pamela McConkey, Winter Recreation
                                    pamela.mcconkey@parks.wa.gov (360) 902-8595
              Parks Affected:       None



                           WINTER RECREATION ANNUAL REPORT

The Winter Recreation Program consists of the following components:
     Snowmobile
     Non-Motorized Winter Recreation
     Ski Lift Inspection
A total of 4 FTEs staff the program.

Program funding:
Snowmobile Program: Fees from snowmobile registrations and fuel tax revenue


                                   Registrations
                                   Fuel Tax
              48%        52%




Snowmobile Registrations:
Fiscal Year 2011 (ending June 30, 2011) – 31,406
Fiscal Year 2010 (ending June 30, 2010) – 29,704
Fiscal Year 2009 (ending June 30, 2009) – 32,279
End of Calendar Year 2009 – 31,594

The data has been showing a downward trend that appears to have flattened out. Recovery from
this trend is uncertain and most likely dependent on the economy in general and the unknown
winters ahead. DOL is forecasting the registrations will be at 31,730 at the end of Fiscal Year
2011.

Snowmobile Advisory Committee:
During the Snowmobile Advisory Committee (SMAC) summer funding meeting the Committee
approved a total budget of $2,152,026 for FY12.
Priority 1     Administration = $294,070 (6% reduction from 2010/11)
Priority 2     Operation and maintenance of major trail grooming equipment = $80,000
Priority 3     Trail grooming $1,360,934 (18.9% reduction from 2010/11)
               Snow Removal $224,349 (5% reduction from 2010/11)
               Sanitation $30,677
               Education and Enforcement $52,575 (10% reduction from 2010/11)
               Planned Emergency Reserve $19,102 (62% reduction from 2010/11)
Priority 4     Replacement equipment reserve $90,322 (23$ reduction from 2010/11)
Priority 5 & 6 New projects $0

                5%                Trail Grooming
              3%
            13%                   Snow Removal
            14%       65%         Staff
                                  Education & Enforcement
                                  Equipment Reserve

Non-Motorized Winter Recreation Program: Fees from sno-park permit sales

Winter Recreation Advisory Committee (WRAC)
During the Winter Recreation Advisory Committee summer funding meeting the Committee
approved a total budget of $1,250,349 for FY12.
Priority 1     Administration = $206,374
Priority 2     Snow Removal = $151,647
               Sanitation = $33,750
Priority 3     Trail Grooming = $263,911
               Education and Enforcement = $79,217
               Planned Emergency Reserve Snow Removal = $25,000
               Planned Emergency Reserve Sanitation = $3,375
               Major Repairs = $100,000
Priority 4     Replacement equipment reserve $335,000
               (Earmarked for new Sno-Cat at Mt. Spokane $200,000
Priority 5 & 6 New Requests = $52,075


              10%                   Trail Grooming
           11%                      Snow Removal
                      32%
                                    Staff
            20%
                     27%            Education & Enforcement
                                    Equipment Reserve


Ski Lift Inspection Program:
In addition, the Winter Recreation program oversees the certification of ski lift equipment at
commercial alpine ski areas. The program contracts with certified engineers that possess
expertise in ski lift mechanics. The engineers inspect ski lift equipment and notify staff when all
required repairs and testing have been completed to their satisfaction. At that point staff sign and
transmit to the lift operator certification to operate. The program is funded by fees charged to the
lift operators. The program charges 28 percent above the engineer fee which covers staff time
devoted to this small program. Over the 2010-2011 winter season, ski resorts were charged
$43,714 for inspection services that was paid to contractors, plus $17,000 in State Parks’
administrative fees.
Review of Operations:
For the 2010/2011 winter seasons, the Snowmobile Program contracted with public and private entities to
provide sanitary facilities, and snow removal services at 72 sno-parks and trail grooming services on
approximately 3,000 miles of snowmobile trails. The Non-Motorized Winter Recreation Program
contracted with public and private entities to provide sanitary facilities, and snow removal services at 37
sno-parks, and trail marking, grooming, and track setting on approximately 300 miles of cross-country ski,
snowshoe, and dog sled trails.
Networking/Communications:
Efforts to strengthen existing relationships and develop new ones with individual and group
volunteers continues to be pursued, with a focus on local grooming and trail councils, and
grooming coordinators. During the 2010/2011 winter season, staff attended 13 meetings around
the state and surveyed trail conditions with 3 different groomer operators. These networking
opportunities included meetings with grooming councils, area trail councils, Washington State
Snowmobile Association meetings, club meetings and events, and meetings with Park staff.
These gatherings enabled staff to listen to concerns, solicit suggestions for streamlining and
improving the program and to share ideas and plans for enhancing winter recreation
opportunities. Staff continues work toward strengthening existing partnerships and exploring
new partnerships for the coming seasons. During the 2010/11 winter season, the program
manager was on extended medical leave; therefore, staff was limited to attend only a few key
group meetings during the 2010/2011 season, but worked hard to maintain communications and
relationships.

Twitter provides another mode of communicating with stakeholders. Beginning in fall 2009,
people have been able to receive important information regarding Sno-Parks through Twitter.
Those who follow State Parks on Twitter receive updates by e-mail or text message. We
currently have 672 followers of whom 78 have us on their lists. We sent out 24 tweets
(messages) last year, 4 so far this season, and 59 to date. Messages informed recipients of permit
requirements, discover pass requirements, emergency Sno-Park closures, grooming updates,
avalanche and weather warnings, and the best places to go.

On Site Evaluations:
A new On-site Evaluation post-card has been developed and has improved the level of user
response. Staff has also developed a new longer, more detailed evaluation form for staff and
Advisory Committee use when reviewing Sno-Parks in more detail. These reports have proven
helpful in providing much needed information to staff on contractor performance, snow levels
and visitation numbers. These provided comments from a wider spectrum of customers.

Steering Committee Work:
The two existing Advisory Committees have formed a steering committee consisting of the
officers of each Committee and staff to enhance communications between the Committees and to
coordinate on policy, budget issues, and operating procedures.

Sno-Park Permits:
Permit changes
At their summer 2010 meeting, the Winter Recreation Advisory Committee recommended two
changes in how Sno-Park permits operate. Both changes were recommended in an effort to
increase equity and maintain revenues.

No change to reciprocity this year. The first recommendation was to eliminate sno-park
reciprocity with other states. As the programs have evolved, pricing structures in Oregon and
Idaho are no longer on par with Washington. In Oregon, for example, the permit fee pays only
for snow removal and as a result costs considerably less.

In light of the Governor’s directive to suspend non-essential rulemaking, because this would
have required an amendment to Washington Administrative Code (WAC), staff did not pursue
this policy change. Once the Governor’s moratorium is lifted (at the end of 2011), staff hope to
bring this issue WAC to the Commission for consideration.
One pass, one vehicle. The second change recommended by the Advisory Committee was to
restrict the Sno-Park permit to one vehicle only. In the past, the permit was transferable between
two vehicles, which, the Committee believed, was artificially reducing revenues as the permit
was “shared” beyond a single household, contrary to the intent of policymakers in establishing
the permit as a funding mechanism.

Of all the changes over the past few years, this change has generated the largest number of
complaints. Most complaints were from users who used two different vehicles for their winter
recreation activities. At their winter meeting 2011 and again during their summer meeting of
2011, the WRAC recommended staying the course on this policy change recognizing that
changes in fees and fee structures tend to result in complaints during the first couple of years.
Fee changes
In the fall of 2009, at the request of the Winter Recreation Advisory Committee staff asked the
Commission to approve a fee increase for the Seasonal Sno-Park Permit, Special Groomed Trail
Sticker and Daily Sno-Park Permit. This fee increase was necessary because program revenues
were not keeping pace with the cost of delivering services, including fuel and maintenance costs.
Current fee structure:
Seasonal Sno Park Permit $40.00
Special Groomed Trail Sticker $40.00
Daily Sno Park Permit $20.00
Discover Pass Sales
During the 2011/12 winter season, visitors will experience a change when visiting a sno-park
that is on State Parks or DNR land. In accordance with the law, visitors will be required to
obtain either a daily or annual Discover Pass when purchasing a Daily Sno Park Permit. Visitors
that purchase a Seasonal Sno Park Permit will not be required to also have a Discover Pass
except when visiting a DNR Winter Recreation Trailhead. Staff is working with the Information
Technology Division and the State Parks Public Affairs Office to make this change as
transparent and understandable as possible to the visiting public.
Permit Sales
Good snow and perhaps other factors, including growing familiarity with our on-line purchasing
system, drove on-line sales of Sno-Park permits up this season!
On-Line - Seasonal and daily permits became available on-line for the 2009/2010 winter season
beginning November 1, 2009, and beginning November 1, 2010 sales soared. Sales are nearly
double this season compared with the same period for last season. Folks are pleased by the
convenience of on-line sales and there have been many favorable comments that the process is
user-friendly.
On-Line Survey - Shortly after the launch of the on-line permit sales in November, staff
developed a short optional survey for the purchaser to complete after buying their permit. We
continued the survey through the 2010/11 season. As of October 1, 2011 for the 2010/11 season
we have received 487 survey responses. Of those taking the survey, 45% purchased annual non-
motorized, 34% purchased One-day, 21% purchased Special Groomed Trails stickers, and less
than 1% purchased snowmobile permits. 95% said they would purchase on-line in the future,
74% said they would NOT support a per person charge, 59% said they knew that the program
was self supporting, and 98% found the process to be user-friendly.
Website
Information provided to the public about grooming and trail conditions on the Winter Recreation
website continues to be updated frequently throughout the day Monday through Friday and
several times before noon on Saturday. Use of the website is high and growing: During the
fiscal year July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 there were 345,308 page visits by 226,372 users.

                                             Visits             Users
         October 2010                        13,643              8,934
         November 2010                       72,324             46,102
         December 2010                      212,386            133,559
         January 2011                       147,878             93,541
         February 2011                       87,827             57,174
         March 2011                          54,899             36,282
         April 2011                          18,415             12,848
         May 2011                             7,409              5,511
         June 2011                            6,393              4,817
         July 2011                            4,786              3,580
         August 2011                          6,620              4,913
         September 2011                       9,009              6,337

Program Management:
New applications/grant process – Staff will meet with the steering committee during the
2011/12 winter season to continue work on a proposed new funding application, and plan to
develop additional improvements in the funding process in preparation for the 2012 funding
meeting.

RCO Grants applied for/received – During the summer of 2010, staff applied for eight
separate two year RTP grants, including six Snowmobile Program grants and two Non-
Motorized program grants. Competition for RTP funds has increased over the past two years,
and at the same time the amount of grant funds available has decreased. One grant application,
trail grooming in the Inland NE/SE area of the Winter Recreation Program’s applications was
partially funded in the amount of $30,875. For the 2011-13 grant period, staff submitted 8
Snowmobile Program applications, and 2 Non-Motorized Program applications. Results should
be known by the date of the November Commission meeting.

Area Issues:
The Ahtanum Area - In 2010, the Department of Natural Resources said that, as a result of
reductions in their budget, they would not be able to continue allowing snowmobile access on
Ahtanum State Forest without financial support. The Chair of the Snowmobile Advisory
Committee, together with State Parks staff, met with Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
staff in October and developed an agreement for funding to maintain public snowmobiling
access to this land for the 2010/2011 winter season. To assist DNR in providing winter parking
and snowmobile access on this forest, the Snowmobile Program provided DNR $6,000 in
funding for enforcement, education and administration for the 10/11 season. With the
implementation of the Discover Pass, DNR has agreed to take five Sno-Parks and remove them
from the official program and designate them as DNR Winter Recreation Trailheads. This
change in designation will require all visitors to have a Discover pass when visiting the DNR
sites at Ahtanum Guard Station, Ahtanum Meadows, Lily Lake, Manastash and Rattlesnake.
With this change, DNR also has agreed to take on the responsibility and associated costs with
snow removal, sanitation and enforcement at these locations. State Parks will continue to
contract for the grooming of trails that are accessed from each of these sites.
Closure of Inland Empire Paper (IEP) lands – In January of 2011, staff reported to the
Commission that each year, IEP Company had entered into an agreement with State Parks that
allowed the Snowmobile Program access to IEP lands for snowmobile trail grooming in the
vicinity of Mount Spokane State Park. However, over the past two seasons, despite program and
local user group willingness to pay a fee for use of the land, IEP has not approved such an
arrangement, citing damage to tree seedlings, and is not allowing grooming, nor snowmobile use
of their lands. As a result, approximately half of the snowmobile trail system in Spokane County
with connections to Idaho is now closed to snowmobiling. Staff, working with local snowmobile
clubs and Spokane County Parks will continue to pursue solutions with IEP and stakeholders.
Canyon Creek Closures – In January, torrential rains in the Mt. Baker area washed out the main
access road to the Canyon Creek trail system. This system lies north of the Mt. Baker Highway,
and included about 55 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. The washout is impassable to
grooming equipment and vehicles. Staff met with the USFS and learned that the trail system will
remain closed through the 2011/12 season with hopes of it being repaired and reopened for the
2012/13 season.
Manastash Closures - In January, torrential rains and rapid snow melt in the Cascade
Mountains just west of Ellensburg and south of Cle Elum, caused severe flooding and
completely washed out Manastash Sno-Park. This eliminated access to the Taneum/Manastash
snowmobile trail system from the southeast. This trail system includes about 80 miles of
groomed snowmobile trails. The washout makes this trail system inaccessible to grooming
equipment and vehicles from the Manastash area. However, most of the trail system will still be
accessible from the Taneum Sno-Park, the Woods and Steele staging area, and other Sno-Parks
near Highay 410 in the Naches area. According to the USFS and Kittitas County, the Manastash
Road will not be repaired before winter, and the Manastash Sno-Parks will need to be relocated
before the 2012/2013 winter season.
Lower Rock Creek/Upper Rock Creek/Milk Creek Closures – The same torrential rains and
rapid snow melt that washed out Manastash Sno-Park, also washed out access roads to a number
of Sno-Parks lying north of Highway 410 in the Naches area. As a result, Lower and Upper
Rock Creek and Milk Creek Sno-Parks will be closed for the 2011/2012 winter season. Staff is
working with the Department of Natural Resources and the USFS to find possible alternate
parking locations to provide other points of access to this 70 mile trail system.

Looking to the future:
Contracts - The Program contracts for trail grooming, snow removal, sanitation, and education
and enforcement services. As program and contracts staff developed a more streamlined
process, contractors are now seeing a simpler method that outlines basic information such as the
service requirements, number of grooming miles expected, hourly service rates, and their
seasonal budget. Six five-year service contracts expired at the end of the 2010/2011 season and
were successfully re-bid and re-contracted and are ready for the start of the 2011/2012 season.
Funding Applications – Staff will continue working with the Advisory Committees and the
contractors regarding the funding process. Staff will explore alternative methods of obtaining
the input of local stakeholder groups into funding priorities, potentially eliminating the need for
the current cumbersome sponsor application process. Staff will work with the Advisory
Committees to develop clear guidelines for making funding decision.
Attention Notices - Last season, staff developed a new form for use by the Advisory Committee
members and staff. This form acts as an official notice for visitors that have not purchased or
properly displayed their sno-park permits. The form captures information regarding the Sno-
Park, date, time and vehicle information which can then be used by staff to track problem areas
and repeat violators. We will continue to use this form as an educational tool in the 2011/2012
season.

Snowmobiler Advisory Committee Recruitment – Staff are continuing efforts to recruit new
Advisory Committee appointees to fill three vacancies on this Committee. Included are the
positions from Area 1 (NE), Area 4 (SW), and the position from Area 6 (SE ). With the
Commission’s approval, the Director appointed an At-Large Non-Snowmobiler position. We
will continue to work in close collaboration with the Washington State Snowmobile Association
and other user group clubs in this effort.
Fuel Prices:
Fuel prices impact the cost of snow removal, trail grooming and providing sanitation and law
enforcement. Fuel prices have been volatile for the past year, increasing steadily, and recently
dropping off some. Although budgets and contracts have been finalized for the 2011/2012
season, the status of fuel prices will continue to be monitored in preparation for the coming
season. Significant increases will have an impact on budget allocations for the 2012/13 season.
Below are charts showing changes in fuel pricing over the past year.

                              U.S. Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Prices, 10/03/11




                    Gasoline      (Dollars per Gallon)                        Diesel Fuel       (Dollars per Gallon)

                    10/03/11                 Change from                      10/03/11                    Change from

                                Price    Week Ago        Year Ago                        Price       Week Ago     Year Ago
          U.S.                3.433        -0.076         0.701     U.S.                3.749          -0.037          0.749
          East Coast          3.440        -0.067         0.767     East Coast          3.765          -0.039          0.768
           New England        3.564        -0.056         0.840      New England        3.941          -0.022          0.901
           Central Atlantic   3.504        -0.063         0.814      Central Atlantic   3.881          -0.041          0.786
           Lower Atlantic     3.356        -0.073         0.712      Lower Atlantic     3.699          -0.040          0.747
          Midwest             3.323        -0.109         0.587     Midwest             3.699          -0.039          0.709
          Gulf Coast          3.238        -0.071         0.650     Gulf Coast          3.693          -0.037          0.773
          Rocky Mountain   3.546    -0.030   0.752   Rocky Mountain   3.846    -0.021   0.822
          West Coast       3.777    -0.050   0.814   West Coast       3.927    -0.030   0.762
           California      3.835    -0.052   0.822    California      4.007    -0.032   0.828




Return to top of document


Item E-7: Camano Island State Park Salt Marsh Estuary Restoration
          Proposal Update-Report

ACTION TAKEN: Report only, no action requested.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This report provides the Washington State Parks and Recreation
Commission with an update regarding the status of a proposal from the Skagit River Systems
Cooperative (SRSC) to restore a “pocket estuary” at the Lowell Point Day Use Area of Camano
Island State Park. This item complies with our Centennial 2013 Plan Priority #2 "Upgrade
existing parks, trails and services: Protect and restore high-quality habitats and promote native
species” and with our core values.

SIGNIFICANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION: : The Skagit River Systems Cooperative
(SRSC), the fisheries and environmental services office for the Swinomish and Sauk-Suiattle
Indian Tribes, has been studying the Lowell Point Area of Camano Island State Park as a
potential site for restoration of a salt marsh pocket estuary since 2007. Pocket estuaries are
believed to be an important habitat element for the rearing of salmon. In early 2011, SRSC staff
met with NW Region staff to present their preliminary findings and requested a letter of support
for a grant request. The grant would be for design and permitting of a salt marsh pocket estuary
restoration.

NW Region staff developed a set of conditions of approval that would need to be agreed to by
SRSC in order to receive agency approval. Those conditions included provisions that would
protect the park and agency financially and protect and enhance a range of recreational
opportunities and facilities. SRSC staff eventually agreed to those conditions. The NW Region
Director then presented the concept to the Executive Leadership Team for either approval of, or
denial of the letter of support. Support was affirmed and the letter was provided to the SRSC.
The SRSC made application to the Salmon Recovery Fund Board (SRF Board) and is in the
middle of the granting process.
Some members of the public are concerned about the possibility of such a project and have
raised their concerns to the NW Region Director, the media, representatives of Island County
Government, State Legislators, and to the citizens and visitors to the Stanwood/Camano Island
area. At the August 11, 2011 Commission Meeting, a member of the public presented his
opposition to the project to the Commission during the Public Comments portion of the meeting.

On September 27, 2011 the NW Region Director notified the SRSC of the various contacts State
Parks had received in opposition to the proposal and included the possibility that State Parks may
modify its letter of support for the grant application prior to the SRF Board’s final decision to
take place in December, depending on public input on the proposal. The SRSC indicated that
they appreciated the information regarding opposition to the project and understood State Parks
need to consider public input. In response to the requests for State Parks

to change its position of support and ask SRSC to rescind its grant request, State Parks has
scheduled a public meeting on Camano Island scheduled for October 27, 2011. At the
Commission meeting, staff will report to the Commission a summary of the public meeting
input, and update the Commission as to whether the public input and other research on the grant
request has changed staff’s previous position.

SUPPORTING INFORMATION:
Appendix 1: Updated Informational Summary and Timeline for the Salt Marsh Restoration
Proposal

Report only, no action requested.

       Author/Contact:        Eric A. Watilo, Northwest Region Director
                              Eric.watilo@parks,wa.gov (360)-755-9231
       Park Affected:         Camano Island State Park




                                        APPENDIX 1
                Salt Marsh Restoration Proposal at Camano Island State Park
 An Informational Summary for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
               Compiled by Eric Watilo, NW Region Director October 21, 2011
   (This is an update to a timeline that was presented to the Commission during the August 11,
                                        2011 Work Session.)
Summary: The Skagit River Systems Cooperative (SRSC), the Fisheries and Environmental
Services for the Swinomish and Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribes, had been studying the Lowell Point
Area of Camano Island State Park as a potential site for restoration of a salt marsh pocket estuary
since 2007. Pocket estuaries are believed to be an important habitat element for the rearing of
salmon. In early 2011, the SRSC met with NW Region staff and presented their findings and
requested a letter of support for a grant request for design and permitting for the restoration of
the salt marsh pocket estuary. The NW Region Director presented the concept to the Executive
Leadership Team for either approval of, or denial of the letter of support. Support was affirmed
and the letter was provided to the SRSC. The SRSC made application to the Salmon Recovery
Fund Board (SRF Board) and is in the middle of the granting process. Some citizens are
concerned about the possibility of such a project and have raised their concerns to the NW
Region Director, the media, representatives of Island County Government, and to the citizens
and visitors to the Stanwood/Camano Island area.
Timeline of Related Events
    2007 - The Skagit River Systems Cooperative (SRSC) conducted research at Camano
        Island State Park, Lowell Point, regarding the site having the potential of being a former
        pocket estuary.
    May 23, 2007 – The SRSC met with the then NW Region staff and presented the
        findings of their study. Region staff agreed that State Parks was in support of a feasibility
        study with the caveat that this was not an approval to move forward with the project, and
        that there would have to be blended goals of habitat restoration and recreation.
    April 23, 2008 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission met on
        Camano Island. During the evening picnic dinner at Lowell Point, Camano Island State
        Park, commissioners and staff were given a brief presentation by a representative of the
        SRSC about the research they were doing at the site. This was an unofficial presentation
        (information only) and some individual commissioners had commented afterward that
        they were in support of further study.
    January 19, 2011 – The SRSC presented further information on their study to the current
        NW Region staff. Following their presentation the SRSC requested a letter of support
        from Washington State Parks, as the landowner, for their grant application to the Salmon
        Recovery Fund (SRF) Board.
    March 8, 2011 – The NW Region Director gave a briefing on the project proposal and
        the requested letter of support at the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) Meeting. The
        ELT gave approval for the NW Region Director to provide the letter of support to SRSC.
    March 11, 2011 – The NW Region Director signed the letter of support for the SRSC
        grant application.
    April, 2011 – The SRSC submitted the draft grant application to the SRF Board.
    May 18, 2011 – Citizens Ralph Ferguson and Dale Tyler met with the NW Region
        Director to request that State Parks withdraw their support for the SRSC grant
        application. Their concern was that it would destroy recreational land used by park
        visitors for generations and that there is no proof that such estuaries support salmon
        growth and development. The NW Region Director informed them of the process that led
        to State Parks letter of support, and that he would not withdraw the letter of support. Mr.
        Ferguson and Mr. Tyler then asked about making contact with the Commission. The NW
        Region Director explained the process of addressing the Commission at Commission
        Meetings.
    July 27, 2011 – Cama Beach /Camano Island Area Manager informed the NW Region
        Director that there are signs on Camano Island saying “Help Save Camano Island State
        Park” and notices in the local paper about a protest to take place August 4, 2011, at the
        Island County Water Resources Advisory Council (WRAC).The WRAC is one step in
        Island County’s approval of SRF Board projects.
    August 3, 2011- Citizens Ferguson and Tyler met again with the NW Region Director.
        They presented historical information that they had obtained from Washington State
        Parks archives in the form of aerial photos from 1956 and a section of a U.S. Coast and
        Geodetic Survey t-sheet map from 1888, both of the Lowell Point area. Their contention
        is that these documents show that there never was a salt marsh/pocket estuary at this
        location and therefore the project would not be a restoration. They also question the
        engineering of such a restoration and the ability to protect the recreational facilities at the
        site.
    August 4, 2011 – The regional SRF Board Grant application rankings (Camano Island
        State Park Salt Marsh Restoration ranked #2) were presented to the Island County
       WRAC as part of the agenda for that meeting. Citizens against the proposed salt marsh
       restoration project were present and some testified. The WRAC voted to move the
       ranking forward to the Island County Council. A NW Region staff member was present
       in the audience, but did not testify.
      August 11, 2011 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission was
       provided information regarding the project proposal and proposal opposition by the NW
       Region Director during the Commission morning Work Session. The Commission heard
       from a member of the public, Ralph Ferguson, in opposition to the proposal during the
       Commission Meeting in the afternoon.
      August 2011 – The NW Region Director was contacted by a County Commissioner and a
       State Senator with concerns about the project proposal. The State Senator suggested a
       public meeting on Camano Island.
      September 2011 – The SRSC contacted State Parks requesting permission to take soil
       core samples as the proposed project site as a step toward ascertaining if a salt marsh
       estuary existed on the site in the past. This step was suggested by someone during the
       August 4 WRAC meeting as a potential means of determining if a marsh did exist here.
       The SRSC was granted permission to take the samples. As of October 21, 2011, State
       Parks has not received the results of the core sample testing.
      September 27, 2011 – The NW Region Director contacted the SRSC to inform them of
       the input he has received regarding the project and that State Parks may need to modify
       its letter of support regarding the project grant request. The SRSC appreciated the
       notification of the opposition and understood State Parks’ need to gather public input.
      October 14, 2011 - Park and region staff met with Senator Mary Margaret Haugen on
       site to explain State Parks’ decision-making process leading to support of the grant
       proposal.
      October 27, 2011 – A public meeting hosted/facilitated by Washington State Parks is
       scheduled to take place to gather input on the project proposal.


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Item E-8: Preparing for the Special Legislative Session and Beyond –
          Discover Pass, Agency Budget, and Transformation - Report
ACTION TAKEN: Report only, no action requested.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This item presents an overview of the latest information on
agency request legislation regarding the Discover Pass modifications and on the state and agency
budget, as provided by the agency to the Governor’s Office of Financial Management. This item
complies with our Centennial 2013 Plan elements “Public Service” and “Financial Strategy” and
with our core values.
SIGNIFICANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Parks and Recreation Commission
asked that a significant opportunity to hear public comment public occur at the November 17,
2011 Commission meeting at Cama Beach State Park to address three critical topics facing the
agency:
   1. Discover Pass Program
   2. State Parks Budget
   3. Agency Transformation Strategies.
Between the time of writing of this agenda item and the Commission meeting, staff will have
submitted draft agency legislation and will have received important information from the
Governor’s office affecting the above topics. A presentation by staff will be made prior to the
public comment session in order to provide both the Commission and the public the very latest
information available.
SUPPORTING INFORMATION: None

       Author/Contact(s):    Ilene Frisch, Acting Deputy Director
                             Ilene.frisch@parks.wa.gov (360)902-8521
                             Daniel Farber, Director of Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs
                             daniel.farber@parks.wa.gov (360) 902-8504

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