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New Washington State Park in Pierce County

New Nisqually State Park (Washington) is the first state park with a campground co-managed with a tribal government.

Washington State Parks will have a meeting in Eatonville on April 28, presenting plans for the park’s village center and trail system.

State Parks Project Manager Brian Yearout said that the park’s center would be the village and have a Coast Salish meeting hall, amphitheater, interpretive trail, play area, and outdoor cooking area for the Nisqually Tribe event.

“Basically, a place to tell the story of the land and the Nisqually people,” he said.

Yearout said that some users created their own trail systems in the park over 13 miles. 

Taking shape

After finding a lead on the new park, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission began acquiring land in the early 90s. It now stands at 1,300 acres with an entrance about three miles west of Eatonville on Route 7.

Upcoming development in the park includes a 60-spot campground, staff residence, maintenance building, interpretive plaza, and a Nisqually River access. The projects could begin development in 2023, according to Yearout.

Nisqually Tribe

When the park began development, the Nisqually Indian Tribe requested involvement. A new welcome sign with indigenous designs shows the partnership between them and the state parks.

“Now we are working collaboratively on the full build-out of the park,” Yearout said.

The Nisqually Tribe said that the two parties signed a memorandum of understanding in October 2020. Yearout also said they are currently writing a mutual operating agreement for the park.

It’s not the first co-management agreement between a Washington tribe and the Parks Department. That occurred with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community for the Kukutali Preserve, co-owned and co-managed by both.

Their partnership is not the first co-management agreement between a Washington tribe and the state parks. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community was the first tribe to co-own and co-manage a park, which is the Kukuthali Preserve.

However, the preserve has limited recreational opportunities and no campground.

The Parks Department said the Nisqually partnership has a “scale and extent of which would be unprecedented in State Parks’ history.”

Nisqually State Park and the Parks Department said the park is rich in history and ecological resources.

“It is a prime destination in the Nisqually River Watershed to convey cultural and environmental stories and experiences,” State Parks said.

Surrounding area

Large tracts of public and tribal lands surround the 1,300-acre park. The Nisqually Land Trust owns 549 acres to the northwest, encompassing Ohop Creek. To the east is 4,300 acres of the UW Pack Experimental Forest bordered by the Mashel River. In the south is the tribal land bordering the Nisqually River.

The park’s master plan is to have the Pack Forest included in the park, extending trails to the area. Yearout said that it would happen around ten years.

This article originally appeared on The Spokesman Review.

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Daniel Brown
Daniel Brown
March 16, 2024 9:27 am

Did you hear about the awesome New Nisqually State Park in Pierce County? It’s a gem co-managed with the Nisqually Tribe, sharing their culture and history. A must-visit spot for nature lovers and history buffs alike!

Thomas Lopez
Thomas Lopez
March 23, 2024 2:23 pm
Reply to  Daniel Brown

I’ve heard of the awesome New Nisqually State Park in Pierce County! It’s a great spot for nature lovers and history buffs. Yes, it’s definitely worth checking out for a fantastic outdoor experience. Thanks for sharing! 😊

Michael Smith
Michael Smith
May 14, 2024 4:16 pm
Reply to  Thomas Lopez

Thanks for the heads-up about the park! Me and my buddies are all about finding new spots to explore. A bit of fresh air and trees does wonders for the soul, you know? Let us know if you hear about any other cool places like that!

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: New Washington State Park in Pierce County! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/washington/new-washington-state-park-in-pierce-county/