Executive Director reflects on our 25 year history

Oregon has some of the most extraordinary state parks in the country; from the 80-plus state parks dotting the Oregon coast to the Switzerland-like vistas surrounding Iwetemlaykin. From the jaw-dropping waterfalls at Silver Falls, to the wide-open skies of Cottonwood Canyon State Park, to the awe-inspiring cliffs of Smith Rock, we simply cannot imagine Oregon without these incredible places. We are grateful for the outdoor lifestyle they provide us.

Since 1995, Oregon State Parks Foundation has been partnering with Oregon Parks & Recreation Department. Now in our 25th year, we have much to celebrate. With the support of our donors and volunteers, the Foundation has enhanced the experience in our state parks over the past quarter of a century.

Some of our accomplishments include:

  • Building an Experience Center at Cottonwood Canyon State Park to host year-round nature and science camps and workshops for local students and the general public,
  • Replacing the Ryan Creek Bridge at Champoeg State Heritage Area for a better hiking experience,
  • Improving the popular trail to the summit of Saddle Mountain,
  • Launching our Ticket2Ride program to provide transportation for 3rd -5th graders at Title I schools to visit local state parks,
  • Installing kiosks along the Oregon coast to improve the experience for multi-day hikers on the Oregon Coast Trail and bikers on the Oregon Coast Bikeway,
  • Raised funds for the first 50 yurts in state parks anywhere in the country,
  • Renovating seven iconic lighthouses dotting the Oregon coast,
  • Converting the abandoned Kam Wah Chung mercantile & apothecary to today’s cultural Chinese heritage museum in John Day,
  • Renovating the iconic Vista House in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area,
  • Enhancing visitor center displays at Champoeg State Heritage Area, and
  • Purchasing additional acreage to expand Smith Rock State Park.

As one reflects, we also look ahead to the next 25 years. The Foundation will continue working to enhance the experience of our parks and to support environmental education programs to nurture and inspire the next generation of public land stewards, such as our Ticket2Ride program. This program provides 3rd – 5th graders from Title I schools the opportunity to visit a nearby state park – often for the first time. We will also continue to support efforts to increase high school participation in week-long nature camps at Cottonwood Canyon Summer Institute.

In addition to our environmental education efforts, we are developing three new projects:

  • Providing nature scavenger hunts on the trails for youth to earn prizes by installing signage and brochures along trails across the state.
  • Making electric all-terrain wheelchairs available to individuals with mobility challenges so they can enjoy soft-surface paths to experience the beach, trails, and rivers in our parks.
  • Developing a program to coordinate volunteers to address deferred maintenance (such as restrooms, picnic shelters and other amenities) and to raise funds for the needed materials.

Addressing the Backlog of Deferred Maintenance
The Foundation is exploring how we can address the growing backlog of maintenance in our parks and public lands. We are looking to shift gears from building new structures to focusing on restoring and upgrading current structures and facilities. We envision creating stewardship opportunities for volunteers with specific skills like roofing, plumbing, electrical, painting, landscaping, and more.

How can you help?
Be a Foundation member or convert your membership to a sustainer giving level of monthly, quarterly, or annually. Becoming a sustainer ensures we have a steady stream of support and ensures your membership is always current.