Thank you Pamela
Updated: Mar 17
Thank you Pamela for all your years of dedication. Pamela is facing audience back left.
Pamela McConkey, our Winter Recreation Program Manager is retiring , her last day is Thursday March 17. She’s been at the helm of our sport and the motorized winter community for about 14 years now providing leadership and fairness across the board for all Sno-Park users.
While some of us are involved in the peripheries of what make the winter program run, and this program is heavily dependent on volunteers of which I am one, most of us do not witness the day to day operations of a statewide program. There is a budget of about 1.6 million (up from about 800k in 2008ish) for non-motorized and about 3.2 million for motorized (different funding sources) with a small staff and so many geographic areas to consider.
Part of Pamela’s leadership was accessibility – she would return phone calls and emails. Part of what allowed her to be fair was extensive travel to all areas of the state and attending many user / club meetings. While there she listened to the users and was upfront with the audience of various challenges meeting everyone’s expectations. She worked all the time.
Many of us are new to the program or do not notice all the incremental changes that have happened in those last 14 years. Here we go - with focus on non-motorized program, but much of the below list also applies to the motorized program - a partial list:
Developed relationships with partner agencies – WSDOT, USFS, WADNR - the three big players in winter rec along with counties statewide and locally The Nature Conservancy. She knows everyone.
Online permit purchasing and “ticket spitters” installed at the State Parks and up at the pass for winter recreation. QR code signs are coming.
GPS’s on all the groomers installed for audit purposes and also users can check the online map for grooming records. Geo-enabling of the trail maps.
Streamlining the contract process.
Started a Twitter account.
Setting up operating procedures – program guidelines set to make it fair across the board, this is an ongoing process with mostly just tweaks at this point.
Created a Winter Strategic Plan and updated it. Work on the Teanaway winter trail planning process.
Survived the overhaul of Crystal Springs (this was part of the mitigation for losing Price Creek westbound Sno-Park for the I-90 expansion). We will probably never see this kind of expansion or improvements in our lifetimes ever again.
Setting up Blake and Matilda, the program mascots for kids and the kid in us older folks.
Expanded marketing efforts and staffed trade shows and various events
Focus on keeping budgets on an even keel so the programs did not have cutbacks in lean years (this is huge), she referred to it as “right-sizing”. No one wants to see budget cuts for this user funded program.
Encouragement of “one-time” projects – such as huts, culverts, parking improvements, summer trail maintenance, signs that sort of thing.
Built up the Equipment Reserve bucket in the non-motorized and made huge progress with equipment infrastructure – 2 big grooming cats each for Lake Easton / Hyak (P2C) State Parks in addition to Mount Spokane and Lake Wenatchee (6 total). Many of the smaller Sno-Parks now have a working functional snowmobile with tracksetter grooming equipment for their trail systems. (Remembering this is a statewide program).
Expanded statewide grooming program (Sled Dog Trails, Highlands, Yakima Bumping Lake, Mt Baker Highway, MTTA, Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, more for Salmon La Sac.
Dedication to underserved areas and groups (snow play) and working on I-90 overcrowding.
Added 2 new Sno-Parks – Easton Reload, Exit 47 Asahel Curtis (and I can think of Evergreen for the snowmobilers).
State Parks personnel now work winter holidays and there is grooming on holidays.
Borrowing of State Park rangers from other parks to help at busy times.
Deleted reciprocity between Oregon and Idaho resulting in more program revenue (this is due to our program has more than just snow removal and is run differently than others).
and oh, my gosh, so. much. time. on. the. phone.
Well, this seems like a pretty big list for all this time. I’d say she was busy and productive.
Thank you, Pamela, for all your efforts!