If you are headed out to camp at a Washington State Park for the Memorial Day weekend, you better have a reservation. Parks officials say almost all campsites are booked. Call 1-888-CAMP-OUT to see if someone cancelled in your favorite spot.
Campsite fees have also increased for the 2013 season.
It isn't just busy campgrounds that could impact your visit. State budget cuts have also changed the way parks operate. Since 2000, the state has shed 12 of its parks, reduced hours at others and shifted 66 of its 189 full-time rangers to seasonal jobs. Park maintenance has also been impacted.
Most direct funding from the state was cut in 2011 and the parks now rely on sales of Discover Passes which have not lived up to expectations.
"We can't sustain the park system this way," said John Ernster, Ranger at Kanaskat Palmer State Park. "It’s important to get back on the general fund or get an independent funding source that will carry the state parks through.”
Governor Jay Inslee proposed $24 million for state parks in his budget priorities. A spokeswoman for the governor says that funding increase would help avoid closure of up to 60 parks. State lawmakers have not yet passed budget during this special session.
"It’s important that everyone gets out to enjoy your state parks," said Ernster.