Washington’s National Park Fund fuels ONP projects

Washington’s National Park Fund (WNPF), the official philanthropic partner serving Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks, on Feb. 27 announced it is donating $987,000 to support 42 priority projects in the state’s three largest national parks.

In addition, WNPF has raised and is providing $540,000 to the parks for future projects to be implemented later this year.

The combined $1.5 million in support is a record-setting amount for the organization, WNPF officials said.

Each year, the three parks’ superintendents and leadership teams select projects needing additional funds not covered under its existing budget and park revenue. Those projects, WNPF officials noted, fall into four areas: advancing science and research; improving visitors’ experiences; expanding volunteerism and stewardship, and embracing inclusion.

WNPF then raises funds to support these projects through a variety of sources: donations from individual and corporate donors, stock and estate gifts, contributions from park lodge guest donation programs, foundation grants, special events, fundraising climbs, and the statewide national park license plate program.

“This isn’t just a milestone; it’s a testament to the power of our supporters’ shared commitment to preserving Washington’s national parks for future generations,” said Alex Day, Director of Marketing and Communications for Washington’s National Park Fund.

“Whether you’ve bestowed a gift, mapped out a park pilgrimage, or helped spread the word about the significance of these parks, each of our supporters has helped leave an incredible impactful on these beloved places — and we look forward to watching that impact grow in the year to come as the parks implement many exciting projects.”

This year, thanks to donors:

• Olympic National Park received $273,484 to fund projects like the popular “Adventures in Your Big Backyard” and middle school science youth programs, aviation training for park rangers, elk monitoring in the Hoh River drainage, the park’s native plant nursery and volunteer program, and restored webcams at Hurricane Ridge following the spring 2023 fire that destroyed the historic Day Lodge. WNPF will provide an additional $296,385 when the park is ready to receive it, the organization said.

• Mount Rainier National Park received $552,034. These funds will enable projects like the development of an online accessible trails guide, Wonderland Trail improvements and maintenance, bilingual rangers, meadow restoration projects, and the park’s 200 Meadow Rover volunteers who patrol alpine trails teaching visitors about land stewardship and preventing meadow damage, and more. WNPF will provide an additional $43,621.

• North Cascades National Park received $161,925 for projects including wilderness internship opportunities, bear education and programs for visitors, rare carnivore research, support for incident responders, and an innovative food sustainability and native plant education program in partnership with local tribes. WNPF will provide an additional $199,916.

Altogether, 42 projects and programs have received funding across the three parks.

For a full list of funded projects and amounts over the years, organized by priority area, visit wnpf.org/funded-projects.

ONP sees 2.9 million visits in 2023

On Feb. 22, the National Park Service announced that 400 national parks reported a total of 325.5 million visits in 2023, an increase of 13 million (4%) from 2022.

Olympic National Park hosted 2.9 million recreation visits in 2023. With half a million more visits than in 2022, Olympic National Park became the 10th most visited national park.

Visitation increased in spite of the loss of the Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge.

“Serving nearly 3 million visitors is a team effort, especially when we lose facilities,” ONP superintendent Sula Jacobs said in a press release. “We appreciate the support of our partners and community members and cannot wait to share the wonders of Olympic with everyone in 2024.”