The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the Nisqually Indian Tribe earlier this month, signed a new partnership agreement for the collaborative development of Nisqually State Park. The 1,300-acre park lies 7 miles west of Eatonville on State Route 7, at the confluence of the Nisqually River, Mashel River and Ohop Creek. The park includes a diverse landscape of steep-sided forest valleys, high ridges and reforested plateaus in the Mount Rainier foothills.
“This partnership is a natural for us, and we’re excited to be working with the Nisqually Tribe,” said State Parks Director Don Hoch. “We look forward to the tribe sharing the story of this culturally significant area, and we know that this will benefit the public in connecting people to their state’s heritage. The park location also serves as a gateway to Mount Rainier National Park and will increase recreation opportunities in this important region.”
Tribal chair Cynthia Iyall described the partnership as, ”Very good news.”
“This agreement is so important to the Nisqually Tribe,” Iyall said. “The Mashel area is very close to our hearts as our ancestral homeland, as the birthplace of Chief Leschi and as critical habitat for salmon recovery. We’re so proud to be a part of protecting and restoring this landscape for future generations to enjoy as a refuge and place of healing.”
The agreement also realizes an early vision of a tribal development partnership as part of the park’s Master Plan. The plan and park name both were adopted by the Commission in 2010. Property at Nisqually was acquired between 1991 and 2013, with funding from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). First-phase development plans, funded by a WWRP grant, call for a trailhead facility that will include a parking lot and restroom. The new trailhead facility is expected to be open to the public by July 2015.
The partnership agreement is a first step. The agency and tribe will soon begin the next phase of the partnership agreement, which will specifically address how the partners will work together to acquire, develop and manage the park.
More information about the Nisqually State Park planning process is available here: www.parks.wa.gov/336/Nisqually
June 10, 2014/WASHINGTON STATE PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION News Release