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Shaping the Future of Oregon's Parks, Recreation, and Heritage
The state park system is fast approaching its centennial -- Oregonian Sarah Helmick donated what became the first state park in 1922. Important dates are an opportunity to think about all the things the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department does, and set goals for the next hundred years.

Plans like Centennial Horizon, Target 2014, the State Heritage Plan, and others stretch back to the dawn of Oregon's public parks and heritage systems. As we hit the century mark, we're going back to the basics.

Between now and 2022, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will focus on:
Protecting special places. The state park system is small by most measures, but contains some of the most iconic and popular places in Oregon. Together with the State Historic Preservation Office, scenic waterways, and world famous ocean shore, and statewide planning for trails and general recreation, and a set of active community grant programs, the department is Oregon's leading advocate for protecting special places.

Providing great experiences. A special place -- park, historic place, archaeological site -- isn't a success unless it fulfills some deeper human need. The experience is the thing, whether it's meaningful time with family and friends, a genuine connection to Oregon's natural and social features, or the satisfaction that comes from outdoor recreation and interpretation.

Taking the long view. Sustaining this effort takes people, funding, and leadership. The people we hire, the way we design and build parks to serve human needs, the partnerships we create with Oregon communities ... each aspect of our work either makes it easier to succeed in our mission, or harder. We intend to build facilities mindful of their future costs, create strong partnerships to accomplish more together, and manage services so they fulfill current and projected needs.
The overlap between these goals creates our mission, and they are enabled by active, creative staff working in cooperation with partners, volunteers, and the people we serve.
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Our work flows from these three big ideas, and as we create initiatives to put them into action, we will publish links to them here. Currently on the drawing board:
  • Inclusiveness. Kick off a complete review of agency services and staffing to make sure they meet the needs of Oregonian's today. Much of the park system was designed and built for needs in the 1950s-60s, and while state park planners and frontline staff have adapted to population changes, more work is needed to ensure parks and heritage programs are open and welcoming to everyone.
  • Vendors and concessions. Broaden the suite of recreational service available in parks by updating and streamlining the way we work with private and nonprofit businesses. Some pilot projects -- bungee jumping at Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint, paragliding at Sunset Beach, bundled recreation packages at Fort Stevens -- are already underway.
  • Branding and merchandising. Many park systems sell custom products to fill a visitor's need to enjoy a great stay and show off their love and support for their state park system. Oregon State Parks is ready to enter the arena (coming late 2016).