Washougal boosts volunteer opportunities in city parks

City introduces Park Pals, updates Adopt-a-Park program

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Myron Crumpacker (left), a city of Washougal public works employee, and Washougal Mayor David Stuebe clean an area next to the pedestrian tunnel near Pendleton Woolen Mills, April 6, 2024, as part of the City’s inaugural Parks Pals event. (Contributed photos courtesy of the city of Washougal)

The city of Washougal is boosting its park volunteer opportunities, creating one program while revamping another.

The City earlier this month introduced Park Pals, a program that invites residents to improve parks and green spaces during designated “clean-up” events. Volunteers “can make a meaningful contribution to our community while enjoying the great outdoors,” according to the City’s website.

“We have a lot of parks in Washougal and very few staff members,” said Rose Jewell, the City’s community engagement manager. “We’re getting into the growing season, and it’s all they can do to keep the grass mowed. (We noticed that) a lot of people use the parks and tend to be more engaged in the parks. We were like, ‘How can we use this energy for the good of the community?’ A lot of people came to us wanting to do something in the parks or noting a concern in a park and brought things to our attention. The City does need help, especially when parks are being utilized in the spring and summer and the grass is growing. I mean, it takes a lot of effort to keep the parks maintained.”

The program kicked off April 6, when 16 volunteers picked up litter and removed weeds from the pedestrian bridge by Pendleton Woolen Mills, Steamboat Landing and the Waterfront Trail.

“I love seeing people getting involved. This is what I really like about this (program),” Mayor David Stuebe, who participated in the event, said during the Washougal City Council’s meeting on April 8. “When I talk about ‘being a part of the solution,’ that’s part of the solution. Everybody that volunteers to help the city out, that’s the solution. I’m proud of all the volunteers.”

The next Park Pals event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 4, will prepare the Washougal Cemetery for the City’s annual Memorial Day ceremony.

“That’s a big lift,” Jewell said. “(The event is) one time a year, yes, but we have to do the beautification (activities) to get it ready — mowing, laying down bark dust, planting flowers, doing some edging and stuff like that.”

The City has scheduled a third Parks Pals event for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 7, at Kerr Park, which is overrun with ivy, according to Jewell.

Volunteers can use City-provided tools or bring their own.

The City created Parks Pals as a “test pilot” for its expanded volunteer program, which will be introduced in 2025.

“The benefit of running a pilot program is that it gives us a chance to learn the ins and outs,” she said.

The City is also updating its Adopt-A-Park program, transferring it from the Public Works department to the City Manager’s Office, which includes the Community Engagement department.

“With a new employee coming into Community Engagement (later this year), it was a good time to bring in some of these programming things that Public Works didn’t have the capacity to run,” Jewell said. “We’re trying to put the programming under one umbrella. Public Works will still maintain the facilities, but that’s their focus — maintenance and facilities, not programs and people, or engagement. That’s my business, so I will be doing it (going forward). It’ll be more focused, more well-rounded and more comprehensive, and that’s what we want.”

Five of the City’s 16 parks have been adopted, according to Jewell.

“Anyone who has adopted one, we’re having them reapply, and then we’re going to run (the adoptions) from June to June, because they weren’t on all the same cycle previously,” she said. “We are in the middle of (updating) everything on the website and identifying which parks are already adopted, so if you want to adopt a park, you could go see which ones are adopted, and then you could request the park that you want.”

The City asks park adopters to visit their park at least once per month to “help keep them safe and clean” through “individual park patrols, work parties, or large community events.”

Typical projects include litter pick-up, graffiti removal, flower planting, landscape bed maintenance, equipment washing, invasive plants removal and leaf raking.

“The value of having community members in the park, we’re hoping that not only will they love the parks, but the community is engaged in those parks,” Jewell said.

To apply for the Adopt-A-Park program, visit To apply for the Parks Pals program, visit