Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Going on a hike? There’s an app for that

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission turned 100 yesterday, and to celebrate the occasion, it launched a smartphone app with information on more than 100 state parks, historic sites and campgrounds.

The free Pocket Ranger ® Smartphone App is available for both iPhone and Android phones. It'll help outdoor enthusiasts plan their trips to any of the parks and also provides these useful features:
  • educational information, amenities, maps and directions
  • real-time calendar of events
  • news, advisories and weather alerts
  • social networking and photo sharing
  • potentially life-saving alert service
  • advanced GPS mapping
On March 19, 1913, the eighth governor of Washington, Ernest Lister, signed House Bill 509 into law, creating the State Board of Park Commissioners. The law gave the board authority to accept donations of lands for state parks purposes.
Click on the image for a larger picture
In 1919, State Parks had 26 acres, and by 1929, it had grown to 8,000 acres. The state park system currently includes 117 developed parks and other properties, altogether totaling more than 110,000 acres.

According to the Commission's news release, most Washingtonians live within a one-hour drive from a state park. The new app will make finding and visiting our state parks easier and will support our parks system by attracting more visitors:
The new app is part of a Commission strategy to expand the use of technology to provide   meaningful visitor services and to market the park system. Technology advancement is one component of a larger Transformation Strategy being considered by the Commission to guide the park system in the next few years. The strategy includes exploration of new revenue sources to respond to a dramatic, recession-driven change in State Parks funding. State Parks financing is shifting away from primary reliance on general fund and toward greater reliance on revenues from use fees such as the Discover Pass. The new app is an example of State Parks working to ensure people continue to choose state parks for their recreation. Meanwhile, the Commission also is advocating for the park system to receive a "right mix" of funding that includes use fees, donations and general tax dollars so that the park system can meet its broad mission and ensure a legacy of parks for the future.  
Honoring the centennial, the House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 4630 sponsored by Rep. Frank Chopp, the Speaker of the House.

Read this story in Spanish.