Happy Birthday: Celebrating 100 years of Oregon State Parks

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Prineville Reservoir State Park, Photo Courtesy of brentdavisphotography.com

It all began with a 5-acre land donation in 1922 that became Oregon’s first official state park. A century later, the state park system comprises 254 properties and more than 100,000 acres. In 2022, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) commemorates 100 years of Oregon State Parks.

“In 2022, we celebrate the places Oregonians hold dear: the viewpoints, waterfalls, trails, and historic landmarks,” said OPRD Director Lisa Sumption. “We also honor the Oregonians who had the vision and wherewithal to set aside and safeguard these special places that we all enjoy today.”

Emigrant Picnic Area 1952, Courtesy of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

From the first 5-acre land donation in 1922 until 1989, Oregon’s state park system grew within the Oregon Department of Transportation and its predecessor agencies. Oregon Parks and Recreation officially became an independent agency in 1990 with much fanfare and public engagement.

In 1998, when some state parks were on the verge of closing, voters passed Measure 66, dedicating a portion of Oregon Lottery funding to OPRD. That vote provided the funding stability needed to keep parks open. That year, Oregon celebrated its first annual State Parks Day with free day-use parking and overnight camping.

“State parks are here because you invested in them, helped care for them and kept them and kept them open to everyone,” Sumption said. “The centennial is a celebration, but also a call to action. Only with your continued support will parks endure for the next 100 years.”

Volunteers Maintaining Trails at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park, Photo Curtesy of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

Oregonians have several ways to participate during this year of celebration:

Events will be scheduled throughout the state and posted on the Oregon State Parks event calendar.

  • Oregon’s 163rd Birthday and Anniversary of Statehood on Feb. 12 will include a special OPRD history exhibit and live dedication. Information will be posted on the event calendar.
  • Community picnic at Oregon’s first state park, Sarah Helmick State Recreation Site in Monmouth, is set for State Parks Day: June 4, 2022.

In honor of the legacy of service that has sustained the state parks system for a century, OPRD will host 100 service projects in 2022. Events will be posted throughout 2022 on the event calendar.

Sunset Bay State Park in Coos County, Courtesy of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

OPRD encourages everyone to post photos from their favorite state parks with hashtags #oregonstateparks and #oregonstateparks100. Follow Oregon State Parks on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the latest centennial updates, and to participate in digital engagement opportunities.

Special 100 year anniversary logo

Merchandise with a special edition centennial logo is for sale online now and will continue through 2022.

OPRD also partnered with artists including Carson Ellis, Aaron Draplin and Michelle Mark as well as organizations such as Belmont Blanket, Danner, Pendleton and Parks Project. Look for merchandise collaborations for sale in the coming months.

About Author

Diane Navarrete is a Communications Specialist with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

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