County, state parks open for recreation

Washington state government-owned parks, lands reopened May 5



Kamiak Butte County Park is one of Whitman County’s several parks, which offers hiking, camping and other recreational activities.

JENNA GEELAN, Evergreen reporter and columnist

With COVID-19 regulations implemented statewide, Whitman County has kept camping sites and county parks open with the exception of city playgrounds and a few restrooms. 

“Wawawai County Park has been full of campers throughout this time,” Dave Mahan, Whitman County parks superintendent, said. “The community is very thankful for having the trails and camping sites open during this time of social distancing.” 

Parks and lands owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reopened on May 5, according to the Whitman County Gazette.

The use of the parks did not change much due to COVID-19, Mahan said, except for the county following stricter bathroom cleanings on the grounds. 

The county used $15,000 of its 2020 budget and temporarily laid off some of the summer employees, Mahan said. However, the county asked the employees to come back to work a few weeks ago.

There are several parks that can be found in Whitman County, like Klemgard County Park and Central Ferry State Park. (MADYSEN MCLAIN)

Sam Edgerton, WSU history teaching assistant, said COVID-19 has affected her family, especially her elementary school-aged son. 

She said not having activities for her son to participate in has created stress for their family as there are several unknowns about whether these regulations will last throughout the summer. 

If WSU’s Cougar Kids Camp were to be canceled, Edgerton said it would be devastating not only for her 7-year-old son, but also herself and her husband. The camp is their form of “child care” throughout the summer. 

Edgerton said she is appreciative of the parks that remain open in the county. She said she visited Kamiak Butte County Park since it recently reopened to the public.

Gov. Jay Inslee recently approved several counties to move into Phase 2 of the four-part plan to open up the state, according to an Evergreen article. As of May 17, Whitman County has moved into Phase 2. 

The story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Klemgard County Park.