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Stewardship brings people, parks together

Volunteer stewards will be recruited to help out at Kitsap County parks.  - File Photo
Volunteer stewards will be recruited to help out at Kitsap County parks.
— image credit: File Photo

The Kitsap County Department of Parks and Recreation is hoping to compensate for budget cuts through stewardship programs, which allow residents to take control of and responsibility for local park facilities.

“Ever since Proposition 13 was passed in California, the management of parks has been a budget issue,” said Department Director Chip Faver. “Stewardship is a time-honored tradition in parks management. It allows us to stretch tax dollars while getting people the services they want.”

Currently, there exist about 25 stewardship programs in the county, including Anderson Landing and Illahee Park. While the programs are managed by the parks department all of the labor is performed by volunteers.

To this end, the county is now advertising for a stewardship director, a full-time paid position that will manage all of the programs throughout the county.

The position has been approved despite the current hiring freeze, since the Parks Department cut more personnel than required during the last budget cycle.

Moreover, according to Faver, “We can hire one person who will get us 100 people who will work for free.

“This person will identify the groups and individuals with vested interest in the parks and bring them together,” he explained. “It will allow us to take care of the parks that need the most attention and bring in the people who have the resources and influence to get the job done.”

Faver said members of the stewardship program will develop pride in their community: “They can drive by a park and say ‘I own that,’ ” he said.

“A volunteer does something that helps the community today,” Faver concluded. “But a steward makes a commitment and provides help for the long term.”

Anyone interested in participating in a stewardship program should visit www.kitsapgov.org/parks.

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