Nisqually State Park is entering its second phase of development thanks to nearly $3 million allocated through the Washington state capital budget.
The funding is just the beginning.
According to a report by Oregon Public Broadcasting, $17 million more will be needed through 2019 for the project to flourish. The nearly $3 million will cover the first two years of development, thanks in no small part to state Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, and the state’s outdoor caucus, of which he is the chairman.
The outdoor caucus is filled with House and Senate members from both parties and has worked closely with the Washington Wildlife Recreation Program and a few other entities to secure the latest round of funding for the continued development of the park.
“The plan is to develop Nisqually State Park into a full-service state park with camping and trails that has strong cultural ties to the Nisqually Tribe,” Barkis said.
The Nisqually Indian Tribe has already started that partnership by paying for an interpretive kiosk that educates the public on the Nisqually Tribe’s roots in the area, which is west of Eatonville.
Also, as a result of phase one of the project, the state paid to create a parking lot for the park. The parking lot is already in use, as it turns out. Folks on horseback enjoy the land there, as well as adventurous hikers, according to the Washington Trails Association. As it stands, the park offers more than 1,000 acres to explore.
“If you’re comfortable with more of a ramble than a directed hike, the trails (at Nisqually State Park) offer a lovely opportunity to brush past salal and other understory plants as they make their way through prairie and forest to the rushing river,” states a Washington Trails Association article.
Barkis said the park is important for two reasons — the economy and relationships.
“The great thing about it is the first component, which will increase tourism and access to the outdoors, which brings economic impact,” Barkis said. “This is a huge deal to build another park. The second component is the unique cooperation between the Nisqually Tribe and state of Washington.”
Lisa Bellefond, policy and outreach director of Washington State Parks Foundation, said she is ecstatic to see the development of a new park, something that hasn’t occurred in the state since 2008. The foundation helped the outdoor caucus advocate for the development of Nisqually State Park.
“We are really excited to have this,” Bellefond said. “We are pleased that there will be a good collaboration with the Nisqually Tribe. This is part of connecting us to culture, to the past.”