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Washington State Parks named national award finalist


OLYMPIA—The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), has announced the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is a finalist for the 2019 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation and one class for state park systems awarded on odd-numbered years.

A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both the local and national levels.

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff and elected officials. Washington State Parks joins three other finalists, Florida, Maryland and Tennessee in the state parks class and will compete for grand honors this summer.

“We are very honored and excited to be named a finalist in 2019,” said Don Hoch, director of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. “All Washingtonians should take pride in this honor, because the success of state parks in Washington really lies in the broad partnership between our incredibly hard-working staff, volunteers and friends, our dedicated board of commissioners, our Governor and legislature – and finally, the people of Washington who use and enjoy our parks, trails and programs.”

The Washington State Parks mission is to provide healthy recreational opportunities, resource stewardship and historic preservation, while connecting people to the state’s rich natural, historic and cultural assets. The Washington state park system is one of the largest and most diverse in the country, with 124 parks in nine distinct eco-regions.

In the past several years, the agency has enhanced its work with friends’ groups and non-profit and corporate partners to create new opportunities and services for the public. The agency values its partnerships with Washington tribes and recently received state funding to continue work with the Nisqually Tribe to develop the next new full-service state park, where the tribe will tell its story. The Commission also recently joined the Rails to Trails Conservancy in celebrating the addition of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail to the Great American Rail Trail connecting Washington D.C. to Washington State.

The Grand Plaque recipients will be announced live during the NRPA General Session at the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland Sept. 24-26, 2019.

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit


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