By Steve Wehrly, Journal reporter
It’s not everyday that we have the chance to celebrate a one-hundredth birthday, but 2013 marks the centenary of the state park system and the special place of the San Juan Islands in that system makes this a year to celebrate.
The San Juans have the smallest state park (1-acre Posey Island) and the third-largest (5200-acres Moran on Orcas). And perhaps the most famous and popular, Lime Kiln Point State Park, opened on Haro Strait in 1984, where Orcas can be seen up close and personal - closer even than the whale-watching boats.
The state parks are their own archipelago of boat-friendly landings, many of them with camping, in the San Juan Archipelago: Islands named Blind, Clark, Doe, James, Jones, Matia, Patos, Posey, Stuart, Sucia, Turn, and Skull are all part of the marine state parks system and all welcome visitors - but check the state parks website at www.parks.wa.gov to see which ones want you to arrive using arm or wind power only. The San Juan Island state parks rival Desolation Sound and the Gulf Islands as unspoiled destinations that you can get to.
Moran State Park will be scheduling a number of birthday-year events, including Saturday, July 27th, when Crow Valley Pottery, Friends of Moran and Plein Air Washington Artists present an artistic celebration of 100 years of Washington State Parks. Other parks, like the ever-popular Spencer Spit on Lopez and 564-acre Sucia Island State Park (accessible only by boat) will be awaiting fun-and-sun seekers, beachwalkers, campers and cold-water swimmers. All three parks have various new facilities built in recent years to celebrate the hundredth birthday.
Lime Kiln Point State Park and the Friends of Lime Kiln Society, also know as FOLKS, are partnering with the Whale Museum, the Historic Museum, the Land Bank and the Trails Committee to make this a year to remember. They’re expecting a record year of visitors - approaching a quarter-million people from as many as 40 countries and as many states.
The attractions of Lime Kiln are both spectacular and thought-provoking. Three pods of Southern Resident whales, a lighthouse built in 1916, a lime kiln dating from Civil War times, and an interpretive center focusing on whales provide the context for hours of viewing, photography, hiking in pristine forests and learning about the unique environment of San Juan Island.
The first two events are set: on Saturday, March 23, a San Juan Trails Know Your Island walk in the Park and the neighboring Land Bank 140-acre Preserve, followed by a birthday party with cake and refreshments at the Interpretive Center. Then, on Saturday, April 20, FOLKS and allies will celebrate earth day with the First Annual Clean-Up Day, a chance to work out the kinks and enjoy a verdant Spring day. Erin Corra at 378-5154 (firstname.lastname@example.org) can answer questions, sign you up or provide details about future events.
It’s going to be quite a Spring, Summer and Fall. There won’t be another one for a hundred years.