On July 27th, Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire held a hearing to gather public feedback on the State’s upcoming budget shortfalls. The hearing was located at Clark College in Vancouver Washington. Hundreds of people filled the room to submit written comments, learn more about the issues at hand, and present their values to the Governor’s Committee on Transforming Washington’s Budget. Committee members present included Governor Chris Gregoire, Senators Joe Zarelli and Karen Fraser, and several others.
Among the speakers was Katie Crafts, Executive Director of the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association. Crafts presented information on the recreational and economic engines that Washington State Parks provide to the Gorge. “The Gorge is in the top 5 worldwide destinations for windsurfing. It is home to international windsurfing manufacturers, the site of annual windsurfing trade shows, and countless small businesses. A closure or reduction in State Park services at these Gorge beaches would have an immediate negative impact on the local businesses that rely on the tourist trade.”
Washington State Parks that are within the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association’s region are The Hatchery, Doug’s Beach, and Maryhill. According to Crafts, thousands of windsurfers, kiteboarders and sailors use Gorge beaches regularly throughout the spring, summer and fall. In a 2007 poll of 580 Gorge windsurfers, The Hatchery ranked the highest use for Gorge beaches, followed by Doug’s Beach at 2nd and Maryhill at 6th.