PRESS RELEASE: The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission celebrates its Centennial today, March 19, 2013. As part of its 100th year birthday celebration, the Commission is proud to announce the launch of the first Official Washington State Parks Smartphone App.
The Pocket Ranger ® Smartphone App is now available for both iPhone and Android devices. The Pocket Ranger ® Smartphone App is a FREE on-the-go interactive guide for park goers, nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. It gives users access to more than 100 state parks, historic sites and campgrounds with detailed information, amenities, facility maps and directions.
The Commission invites the public to celebrate 100 years of state parks in Washington by using this new App to plan park trips. Centennial 2013 events and activities will be available in parks all over the state throughout 2013. Signature Centennial 2013 events are planned at Riverside State Park June 8 and at Deception Pass State Park August 3. Visit www.parks.wa.gov/events/ for details.
Visitors can search for a park by GPS location or activity and find nearby locations for hiking, camping, boating, birding and more. Once visitors are in parks, advanced GPS and GIS mapping technology allows them to track and record trails, mark waypoints, locate friends within the parks and enjoy GeoChallenge activities and games. Users can even cache GPS maps in advance to ensure navigation remains possible in the event of lost mobile reception.
The app provides plenty of other features to maximize visitors’ outdoor adventures, including:
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 feature
Advanced GPS mapping features
State Parks is collaborating with ParksByNature Network™ to provide this free service to the public. To download the app, visit iTunes or Android Market. No state funds were used to develop the new app. ParksByNature Network™ locates sponsors to underwrite development of the app for the state park systems it serves.
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.
The Washington Legislature created the State Board of Park Commissioners on March 19, 1913, mainly to accept citizen donations of park lands. Larrabee State Park was the first official state park. In 1919, State Parks had 26 acres, and by 1929 had grown to include 8,000 acres. Today, the state park system includes 117 developed parks and other properties, altogether totaling more than 110,000 acres and drawing nearly 40 million visits a year. There are state parks in almost every county of the state and within an hour’s drive of most Washingtonians’ homes.
Centennial 2013 was a campaign created by the Commission in 2003 to align the efforts of the Commission, staff, public and lawmakers to raise awareness and make improvements in the park system. During the core years of the Centennial campaign prior to the Recession, State Parks was able to add programs, upgrade facilities in many parks and increase volunteer efforts. Stay connected to your state parks by following Washington State Parks at www.facebook.com/WashingtonStateParks, www.twitter.com/WAStatePks and www.youtube.com/WashingtonStateParks. Share your favorite state park adventure on the new State Parks’ blog site at www.AdventureAwaits.com.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.
Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov.