The future of Moran State Park is bright | Editorial

The future of Moran State Park is bright | Editorial

There are some intriguing changes afoot at our beloved state park.

The State Parks and Recreation Commission has approved funding for a Mt. Constitution Interpretive Center as part of its overall master plan to reinvigorate the park. Parks hopes to put forth $20 million over the next 11 years to enhance the park, including redoing the campgrounds.

Islanders gathered last week to share their ideas on what the interpretative center should look like and offer. According to the Friends of Moran, public input is critical to the success of this project. And we agree. Moran State Park is truly the jewel of Orcas Island that is utilized by thousands of locals and visitors.

HKP Architects of Mt. Vernon (the same firm that designed the Orcas Island Public Library) has been chosen to design the building. Plans and permitting are slated for this winter with construction to begin spring of 2019.

Some of the goals of the center are: building meaningful connections that help visitors understand the broader story of Mt. Constitution; providing an orientation facility for Moran State Park and the San Juan Islands; encouraging respect for the historical and natural elements at the site; providing similar experiences for visitors who may not be able to access the Observation Tower or other viewpoints; and creating opportunities for sustainable revenue generation.

For more information or to offer suggestions, contact Project Coordinator Barbara Alten at barbara.alten@parks.wa.gov or call 360-755-5262.

In addition, state parks is looking at expanding the trail system of Moran with the possible acquisition of two adjacent properties. One is on the shoreline and the other is 80 acres of wooded area. Obstruction Pass will also likely be expanding with the purchase of a Spring Bay property that will allow more parking and easier shoreline access.

We are very pleased to report on the evolution of Moran State Park. It’s thanks in part to the financial contribution of visitors to the park that these kinds of projects can move forward. The Washington state Legislature and governor created the Discover Pass in 2011 to offset steep reductions in general tax support. The cost is $30 annually or $10 for a one-day visit to lands and facilities operated by Washington State Parks, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

So every time you purchase a pass, you are allowing the parks system to grow and remain open for generations to come.

The natural beauty of our islands is truly unparalleled. We are hopeful that in the near future we’ll have even more to explore in our own backyard.