December 9, 2011 in City

Parks staffing in flux as shortfall forces cuts

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Riverside and Mount Spokane state parks likely will be combined and full-time employees reduced by about 40 percent as Washington State Parks officials scramble to slash the agency’s spending.

A shortfall from lagging Discover Pass sales has left state parks strapped for cash after being cut off from most taxpayer funding by the Washington Legislature.

Decisions are still being made and changed daily after the Parks and Recreation Commission voted Tuesday to eliminate 161 of the agency’s 516 full-time positions.

“At this point, it looks like a done deal that Riverside and Mount Spokane will be combined,” Chris Guidotti, Riverside State Park manager, said Thursday. He was at his computer making recommendations to the headquarters staff on how the changes might be worked out.

Six of the 15 full-time positions at the two parks probably will be eliminated, he said.

Riverside has nine full-time rangers plus one other staffer, and Mount Spokane has five full-time positions, including three rangers and two staffers who focus on road maintenance and equipment repair for the mountain roads.

Steven Christensen, Mount Spokane Park manager, was not available for comment.

“In some cases, full-time employees are being offered five-month positions,” Guidotti said.

“But as it looks today, Riverside and Mount Spokane soon will be operated by fewer people than (now) operate Riverside alone.”

The State Parks and Recreation Commission already had eliminated 80 positions statewide since July 2008.

Riverside State Park covers about 10,000 acres in and around Spokane, including the Centennial Trail, Columbia Plateau and Little Spokane River Natural Area. Mount Spokane State Park includes 13,919 acres.

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