Arts and Entertainment

Volunteers keep Kitsap swim spots divine in summertime

Wildcat Lake will be open this summer thanks to volunteer efforts. - File Photo
Wildcat Lake will be open this summer thanks to volunteer efforts.
— image credit: File Photo

As the summer heat increases so does the demand to cool off.

Public parks are a common way to find a place out of those UV rays, in the shade of some pine trees or, if you are looking to cool off faster, a cool lake.

Despite the lake’s popularity, Kitsap County Parks and Recreation was forced to reduce summer operating hours for some lakes around the county because of budget cuts this year.

South Kitsap’s Horseshoe Lake, which was once open all week, is now open during weekends only.

Wildcat Lake near Bremerton was in a similar boat, but a group of volunteers — the Kitsap Tribabes — helped by taking the park under its wing, providing volunteer maintenance where the county’s resources fell short. The park remains open seven days a week until sunset.

Hansville resident Alex Maxwell, 11, said he doesn’t like to see access to local parks threatened. Maxwell frequently visits Hansville’s Buck Lake and said a reduction in park hours is not something he wants to see, especially during the summer.

“This place is quiet, I love nature,” Maxwell said as he threw a ball for his two labradors.

Maxwell lives just south of Buck Lake and comes to the park to get out of the house and have some time to himself. While not everyone can live within walking distance of a park, Maxwell said parks are necessary for local communities.

“Closing parks, to me, is unacceptable,” Maxwell said. “I would not be happy if I couldn’t come to this park when I wanted.”

Buck Lake is one of several parks that remain open despite budget cuts. Parks such as Island Lake just north of Silverdale and Long Lake near Port Orchard offer swimming access all week and remain open until sunset.

To keep county parks open, volunteers and stewardship programs are available for anyone interested. Kitsap County has one of the highest amounts of volunteer groups in Washington. Jan Koske, who oversees the county’s Adopt-a-Park program, said Kitsap residents have always been involved with their local parks.

The success of the volunteer work done in Kitsap County is, at least partially, because of the strong staff of the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation, Koske said.

“We have always had a fairly active community,” Koske said.

Get involved

If you would like to volunteer to help keep Kitsap County parks open is simple: Decide on a park or location along with the tasks you or your group are willing to provide, complete and mail in an application which can be found at under the volunteers tab. A program coordinator will contact you to develop an Adopt-a-Park agreement and park assignment.

Once you or your group have been associated with the park, a park sign will be placed with the volunteers as recognition. If you cannot commit to a long-term adoption, the program also encourages one time clean-up projects, which can be seasonal. Your efforts will be recognized with a certificate and invitation to a recognition event.

Donations are also welcome to support the park upkeep. WU

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