result of increased activity on the part of the Parks Commission was the
tremendous response from members of the public. The number of parks visitors
grew, and the state's citizens began to demand parks in areas where no
parks existed. Park users demanded more parks, closer to home and with
a wide variety of recreation options.
is Camano Island State Park. Camano Island, located north of Everett, has
no cities, and a small population. A bridge connects the island with the
mainland near the town of Stanwood. The island is part of Island County,
but is the most rural and isolated part of the county. Of the several state
parks in the county, nearly all were located on Whidbey Island. Because
of the island's geography, Camano Island residents had to drive a considerable
distance to use any state park in the county.
wanted this situation, and other problems caused by their isolation, remedied.
The Camano Island Grange established a committee to study the needs of
the island. The Grange report pointed out that citizens had little or no
access to the saltwater beaches. Almost all the land on the island was
privately owned. The Grange was able to persuade the state to set aside
some publiclyowned school lands for a park.
In 1949, with
the property in hand, the Grange requested that the Parks Commission develop
the area as a state park. Finally, the Commission was able to allot $5,000
to the development project. The dollars were granted to create the park,
provided the local community would provide a work force of some 500 volunteers
to work on the site.
of Camano Island responded with excitement. Local businesses closed their
doors for the scheduled "Camano Island Park Day," and the Grange arranged
for buses to transport workers to the park site. The day was heavily publicized
on radio and in the newspapers. The Parks Commission surveyed the area
and provided some skilled workers.
By the end
of the day, the park had been built. Five hundred and nine workers had
been registered by the Grange. Three bulldozers, nine farm tractors, three
wreckers, 34 pickups and small trucks, one large trailer truck, and a team
of horses had been donated to do the heavy hauling. A medical team provided
emergency care for the workers, and the Grange women served food and drinks.
Picnic areas were prepared, complete with picnic tables; a spring was cleaned
and tiled; roads and a parking area were built; and a scenic trail was
cleared. The park was usable.
estimated that the value of the work performed was about $6,000 quite
a large sum at the time. Even more precious, though, was the excitement
of the volunteers . Newspaper reports of the time wrote about the high
spirits of the workers and the tremendous success of the project. A local
paper from Stanwood talked about the "pioneer spirit," comparing the project
to an oldfashioned quilting bee or barn raising. The Grange and other
groups also committed themselves to continue to work on the park. They
planted shrubs and completed jobs they weren't able to finish in a single
day. Both the Commission and the local residents were well satisfied with
the results of the experiment.