Parks Report Part One

Posted February 24, 2017 at 5:51 am by

The trails and open spaces on the island are pop­u­lar with both res­i­dents and vis­i­tors, but they don’t just appear out of nowhere. Where does the mon­ey come from to keep them open? What can mem­bers of the pub­lic do to help? This is the first in a series of reports by Louise Dus­trude try­ing to answer those questions.

A view on Young Hill, part of English Camp National Historical Park - Louise Dustrude photo

The Nation­al Park

Elex­is Fredy has been super­in­ten­dent of San Juan Island Nation­al His­tor­i­cal Park for just over a year now, and the park has few­er peo­ple work­ing today than when she came.

The prob­lem is two-fold. Employ­ees who trans­ferred out or retired last year can­not be replaced because of a three-month hir­ing freeze imposed by the new pres­i­dent, and she says that’s com­pound­ed by the long-term dif­fi­cul­ty in hir­ing peo­ple “because of the lack of afford­able hous­ing on the island.” 

Until recent­ly the park had 21 employ­ees, and now there are eight and a half year-round, plus two more full-time in the summer.

Some help is pro­vid­ed by vol­un­teers. There are four retired cou­ples who come in the sum­mer to camp in their RVs and act as park hosts. There are sev­er­al youth groups with up to 50 young peo­ple who help with trail build­ing and main­te­nance — but they need adults to guide and super­vise their work.

Lex would like to draw on the exper­tise of islanders for:

  • Help with fundrais­ing for the park
  • Help in secur­ing edu­ca­tion­al and inter­pre­tive funding
  • Cre­at­ing exhibits
  • Arrang­ing spe­cial events in the park, “such as a con­cert and bar­be­cue on the parade ground”
  • Activ­i­ties for families
  • Not just fundrais­ing for the park, but also fundrais­ing for oth­er orga­ni­za­tions using park facilities

“We don’t have base­line data for how peo­ple use the pub­lic spaces in the coun­ty,” she said. She and oth­er “ter­res­tri­al man­agers” here from the state park, the coun­ty park, the land bank, and the nation­al mon­u­ment are plan­ning to gath­er detailed data in May through Octo­ber, using vol­un­teers who are will­ing to be con­sis­tent, reli­able, and unobtrusive.

For­est health data also needs to be col­lect­ed by knowl­edge­able vol­un­teers. The park hopes to hire sci­en­tists to design the ques­tions, and have vol­un­teers to col­lect answers.

Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty Lex sees would be if peo­ple are will­ing to rent hous­es to the park so that in turn they can be offered to new employ­ees. She sug­gest­ed some peo­ple who have been rent­ing to tourists through airbnb might be tired of the inces­sant work required and might pre­fer a five-year lease with the park.

If you have any ideas you would like to share, please leave a com­ment below.

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.


  1. What’s the best way to donate funds direct­ly to our local nation­al park?

    Comment by Heidi on March 2, 2017 at 8:30 am
  2. Hei­di — I checked with the park super­in­ten­dent, Elex­is Fredy, and she gave me this web site in answer to your ques­tion. Thanks for ask­ing! Louise

    Comment by Louise Dustrude on March 7, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0