WA State Parks: Equity & Inclusion in WA Outdoor Spaces

Washington has an abundance of natural beauty and a rich tradition of outdoor recreation. The COVID-19 pandemic and recent social and political unrest across the nation have simultaneously shined a spotlight on the high-value people place on outdoor spaces and the inequities that exist within them. 

A recent national survey found that 70% of city-dwelling Americans agree that parks are critical to preserving an individual’s physical and mental health amid today’s challenges. Yet, as the demographics of our state change, historically and currently marginalized communities still do not have the same opportunities as their non-marginalized counterparts across nearly every measure including education, poverty, employment, health and more. Inequities based on race, ethnicity, gender and other characteristics continue to be deep, pervasive and persistent; coming at a great economic and social cost. 

Washington state natural resource agencies are now evaluating their policies and programs through an equity lens to make sure they aren’t perpetuating racism and other disparities and correct them if they do. Agencies are also working to reduce and eliminate gaps and inequities in how they operate parks and recreation and manage the state’s natural resources.

Additionally, the state of Washington has recently formed an Office of Equity (OOE) to promote access to equitable opportunities and resources that reduce disparities and improve outcomes statewide across state government. The OOE is developing a five- year strategic plan to bridge opportunity gaps and reduce disparities so everyone in Washington flourishes and achieves their full potential for the next seven generations and beyond.

We seek your help in improving access to the opportunities and resources Washingtonians need to flourish and achieve their full potential by providing input and feedback in two upcoming opportunities


The OOE is requesting wide community/stakeholder participation in a survey they’ve developed to gather feedback and perspectives to help shape its important strategic planning efforts. This survey is voluntary and confidential. Responses go directly to the OOE; individual responses will not be publicly disclosed. You are invited to complete the survey by Aug. 31. The survey is available in several languages – links provided below.  If you have questions or concerns about this survey, please contact: [email protected]

Office of Equity survey links:

Listening Sessions

Washington State Parks and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) are co-hosting three listening opportunities so agency leaders can hear first-hand from Washingtonians and park visitors about how outdoor spaces can be more welcoming and better serve the growing diversity of our communities.

We invite participants to imagine creating an anti-racist Washington state where everyone flourishes and achieves their full potential for the common good: an equitable and just state for all. 

Discussion Questions:

  • How might we achieve this vision in Washington’s outdoor spaces? 
  • How might our systems, processes, policies, past practices help or hinder achieving this vision? 
  • Where and how can we better communicate, engage and involve ALL Washingtonians in decisions regarding outdoor recreation, grant administration and management of natural resources?
  • What opportunity gaps do we need bridge? 
  • What disparities do we need to eliminate? 
  • How might we be more welcoming, accessible and accountable?

Parks and RCO are hosting three listening sessions this month. We invite you to join us and share your thoughts. 

Listening Session Dates and Registration

Tuesday, August 24, 2021
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Register Today

Thursday, August 26, 2021
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Register Today

Friday, August 27, 2021
9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Register Today

For questions regarding the listening sessions, please contact either:  

Owen Rowe, State Parks Policy and Government Affairs Director 
Becky Daniels, State Parks Human Resources Director

Share this post:

Comments on "WA State Parks: Equity & Inclusion in WA Outdoor Spaces"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment