Julie Parascondola, Regional Parks Manager, (253) 305-1060; email@example.com
Michael Thompson, Public Information Officer, (253) 305-1092; firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers put more eyes, ears on Point Defiance Park
Parks Watch Program started to help maintain visitor safety, protect park’s resources
Visitors to Point Defiance Park might soon notice some diligent people in lanyards and yellow safety vests walking the trails, viewpoints and parking areas. They’re volunteers with the new Park Watch Program, which began this summer to help maintain safety.
A core group of about 20 people have received training to notice and discourage car break-ins, vandalism, and other park rule violations such as smoking, drinking, feeding of wildlife and unleashed dogs. Besides human behavior, they’ll check for fallen trees and other naturally occurring potential hazards.
“Park district staff already check for problems on a regular basis,” said Julie Parascondola, regional parks manager for Metro Parks Tacoma. “Park Watch will put even more attention on Point Defiance, help keep people safe, and protect the park’s resources.”
Volunteers receive training and sign an agreement to follow Park Watch rules. Among the rules: Avoid confrontations with the public, report regularly to parks staff, and call 911 in case of emergencies. Patrols will be on trails, viewpoints, parking lots and other outdoor areas used by the general public.
Park Watch is formally part of Metro Parks’ thriving CHIP-In volunteer program, directed by Richard Madison. CHIP-In includes a districtwide Park Patrol Group program, which helps staff keep an eye on several locations throughout the city. Staff and citizens had discussed setting up a similar watch for Point Defiance Park, and this year’s master plan update process for the park “re-energized” interest, Parascondola said.
For the next few months, the core group of volunteers and Metro Parks staff will refine procedures and other program details.
“It’s a dedicated group,” Parascondola said of the volunteers. “People love Point Defiance Park, and the citizens in this program were looking for a way to help keep it safe and enjoyable.”
In 2014, almost 5,800 people contributed nearly 181,000 hours of service to the park district. Some volunteers assist with active living programs such as Specialized Recreation and Adaptive Sports, some serve on advisory councils, others help interpret 1850s life at Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and still others assist at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.
The CHIP-In program – the name stands for Citizens Helping to Improve Parks – started in 2003 and helps district staff maintain more than 2,500 acres of parks and green space, gardens and more. There are several focus areas:
· Park volunteers
· Natural area stewards
· Park patrols
· Garden volunteers
To volunteer for CHIP-In, call (253) 202-5978, email email@example.com or visit ChipInForParks.com.
To explore more ways to contribute to the community through Metro Parks, visit MetroParksTacoma.org and click “Get Involved.”