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Camano Island State Park History
An important 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.
An example 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.
Island residents 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.
The people 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.
The Commission 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. 
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|| ALHN Island County || ALHN Washington ||