By Rikki King Herald Writer
OAK HARBOR — Retired U.S. Navy leaders know how to fix stuff.
That’s just what they do, said Bud Betz, a volunteer retiree from Oak Harbor.
A number of years ago, a local Navy retirees group adopted Rasar State Park near Concrete. Their work helps keep that park looking good, Betz said.
Recently, the group joined up with Deception Pass State Park staff to offer much-needed help there as well.
The last few days in March, more than 130 people, mostly retired military folks, came together to work at the park, said Sam Wotipka, an AmeriCorps member who works in interpretive services at Deception Pass.
The main project was renovating a picnic shelter at Bowman Bay built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Over the years, various treatments were applied to the wood, Wotipka said. Some of them were damaging.
If left alone, the treatments would have ruined the picnic shelter over time, he said.
“It’s a part of our state history, and it’s our history, and when you let those structures go, you can’t get them back,” he said.
Volunteers stripped the wood bare. They pressure-washed it and sanded it by hand. It took more than 240 hours of labor.
“It’s the sort of thing that we just absolutely wouldn’t be able to do without volunteer labor,” Wotipka said.
Volunteers last month also spread mulch on the campgrounds so vegetation will grow between campsites, he said. They cleared parking lots of brush built up over the winter. They also picked up trash and raked leaves.
Staffing at the park is limited, Wotipka said. During the busy season, staffers must help visitors, monitor camp sites and keep an eye on all 4,134 acres.
Some examples of volunteer needs there include scraping fog lines, hosting at campsites and technical skills such as woodworking, electricity or plumbing.
“We need all sorts of things,” Wotipka said. “We take whatever help we can get.”
The picnic shelter project was “exhilarating,” Betz said.
“We get to go and work but we also get to go and camp,” he said. “We get to have fun while we’re camping. We get to have fun while we’re working. It’s just something that we like to do. We like to work and have fun at the same time.”
For information on volunteering at Deception Pass, call 360-675-3767.
For information on volunteering or campsite hosting with Washington State Parks, call 360-902-8583 or visit www.parks.wa.gov.
State Parks volunteers in 2012 logged 223,317 hours of work — the equivalent of 107 full-time employees, a spokeswoman said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.