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Challenges in managing Washington state national parks

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Challenges in managing Washington state national parks
June 22, 2014 10:14AM
State’s national parks: lean times in nature’s grandeur
June 21, 2014 at 7:00 PM | Page modified June 22, 2014 at 8:14 AM
Washington’s budget-strapped national parks are trying to be nimble and collaborative as they face challenges ranging from melting glaciers to mountain rescues.

When the federal government shut down for 16 days last October, Americans seemed to miss one thing most of all: visiting their national parks. Several states even put up big money to reopen their parks.

Washington state’s national parks encompass the natural treasures that define this place. Mount Rainier is our state’s icon, on our license plates. North Cascades National Park takes in some of our most rugged wilderness. Olympic National Park’s snow-mantled mountains, moss-dripping rain forests and wild ocean beaches showcase the state’s natural diversity.

But the shutdown also spotlighted the difficulties national parks face in times of uncertain funding, including a nationwide maintenance backlog of more than $11 billion.

For parks such as 115-year-old Mount Rainier, which represents some $220 million of that backlog, that’s just the start of the challenges to keeping the gates open.

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