Mike Remle is a lead park ranger for Snohomish County Parks. He manages the northern region from his office at Kayak Point County Park near Warm Beach. His team oversees more than 25 parks, trails and campgrounds, in green spaces that stretch from Stanwood to Darrington. You may find him checking in with crabbers at Kayak Point County Park, clearing problem trees along Lime Kiln Trail near Granite Falls or patrolling the new Squire Creek Park & Campground in Darrington.
What made you want to become a park ranger?
I have always had a great passion for the outdoors — an appreciation for preserving our natural resources and protecting the ecosystems and the wildlife within them. I spent my summers camping and touring our state and national parks with my family. I grew up going through the ranks of Boy Scouts from Cub to Eagle. As a Scout, I worked on trail restoration, park cleanup and tree conservation. I enjoyed all the outdoor activities the Scouts provided, and I learned to appreciate and respect my environment and wildlife.
After serving in the U.S. Navy, I worked seasonally for Snohomish County Parks as an assistant park ranger. After that season, I knew I wanted to continue my career as a park ranger, and focused on securing a full-time position. I wanted to be a part of preserving and enhancing parks.
Tell me more about your job as a Snohomish County park ranger.
As the north county lead park ranger, I manage the operations of the northern region of Snohomish County Parks. I am very satisfied and proud to work as a park ranger. I enjoy that I get to wear many hats: I perform law enforcement, education outreach, collect park revenue, assist in wildlife rescues and maintain campgrounds. I go to work excited to see how my day will unfold.
I find it amazing that such a small crew — we have a summer staff of 15 and eight full-time rangers — maintains the vast number of day-use parks, campgrounds and hiking trails in the county park system. I am extremely proud to be a part of a team that is dedicated to maintaining and preserving the natural environment for the community to enjoy. We are dedicated to making sure our parks are safe, clean and open.
Let’s get into your background.
After earning a transfer degree at Skagit Valley College, I completed my bachelor’s degree in outdoor recreation at Eastern Washington University. I started at Snohomish County Parks as a park aide, then became a commissioned park ranger, then a senior park ranger and on to my current position as the north county lead ranger. This is my 23rd year with Snohomish County Parks. It has been a rewarding experience to manage the parks I grew up exploring.
What is your favorite park or trail in Snohomish County?
My favorite park is Kayak Point County Park. It is amazing that I get to be at this park every day with 3,300 feet of shoreline. This park offers the best of everything, from camping, picnicking and hiking to fishing, boating and birdwatching. I enjoy watching the seasons change, the sunsets and the storms, and the wildlife in their natural habitats. It is a true Washington state environment — from the whales migrating in the spring, the seals in the bay and the picturesque views of the Olympic Mountains. I tell all my summer workers at Kayak Point that this is their office for the season and to enjoy the Pacific Northwest’s beauty.
I also love Squire Creek and Whitehorse campgrounds. Camping spots there are often available on busy weekends when our other parks are full. They offer many nearby Forest Service trails to explore. Darrington is close by for small-town amenities. It is definitely worth a trip to these off-the-beaten-path campgrounds. But if you want to visit one of our beach or lake parks, like Kayak Point, arrive early on summer days to secure a parking spot, as it fills up very fast.
Tell me an interesting story from being on the job.
I often help Scouts find Eagle Scout projects in the parks I manage. It’s been very rewarding to help countless Scouts reach the Eagle rank. I have a collection of Eagle mentor pins given to me at Eagle Court of Honor ceremonies.
The Eagle Scouts projects have included restoring campsites, building benches and installing fences. There are two nice benches along the Centennial Trail and, more recently, 15 rotted signs were replaced along the Lime Kiln Trail. My own Eagle Scout project is at Kayak Point County Park. We rebuilt a trail and a bench down by the day-use area. It’s old and outdated now, but it’s still there and it’s cool to see after 30 years.
How has your job changed because of COVID-19?
The only major change has been the increase in visitors at all our parks throughout the year. I enjoy seeing families camping, hiking and picnicking. It is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors, explore nature and spend quality time together. We’ve seen more visitors than ever before. We know this because we track day- and annual-pass numbers.
Access to most day-use areas of Snohomish County Parks is free. However, there are a few parks that require the purchase of a day or annual pass to help offset the costs of maintaining them: Kayak Point County Park, Flowing Lake County Park & Campground in Snohomish and Wenberg County Park in Stanwood.
We’ve taken the day pass and annual parking pass numbers, from Jan. 1 to July 6, for these parks and compared them year to year. Comparing 2020 to 2021, day pass and annual pass purchases have increased by 192%.
More about Mike
Mike Remle, 47, of Arlington, has been with Snohomish County Parks for more than 23 years. Since 2013, he also has been an Eagle Scout project coordinator for Boy Scout troops throughout Snohomish County — especially Boy Scout Troop 419 in Marysville. He served as a religious program specialist with the U.S. Navy from 1992 to 2000. An Arlington High School grad, Remle’s favorite parks include Kayak Point County Park near Warm Beach, River Meadows County Park in Arlington and Squire Creek Park & Campground in Darrington.
Washington North Coast Magazine
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