Benton County Parks a Draw for Recreationists
With anywhere from 50 to 70,000 people expected to flock the river's shorelines for the hydroplane races, it's an opportunity for Benton County to showcase its 10 parks.
Adam Fyall, Benton County Sustainable Development Manager, says the parks' amenities range from camping, fishing, boating and hiking.
"I know a lot of folks don't make a big distinction about who manages the different parks in the community. But we're pretty proud of our portfolio."
Take Horn Rapids Park for example. It's comprised of mostly river to upland shrub-steppe habitat.
"Horn Rapids is one of our parks that has a boat launch, it has a campground there, and does have a little bit of an interesting history." Fyall said.
That history dates back to World War II where the site served as an internment camp before the county took ownership of the property in the 1960's.
Interestingly, at more than 800 acres, Horn Rapids is not the county's largest park. It's Rattlesnake Mountain Shooting Facility
"This is 1,000 acres and it's multidisciplinary for all of the different kinds of shooting sports you might be involved in." Fyall added.
Not far from where the Columbia Cup hydroplane races are held is Two Rivers Park, the county's most developed and visited park. It has a boat launch, disc golf course, nature trails, and sheltered lagoons. Benton County leases Two Rivers Park from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
"So that's another park that we're proud of. And we have an improvement coming out there later this summer into the fall. We're going to put a boardwalk out there over one of the wetlands. And we're really excited about that."
Two of the most visible parks in the Tri-Cities region are the Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve and the Candy Mountain Preserve. Badger Mountain draws more than 200,000 visitors each year while Candy Mountain is part of the Badger Mountain trail system that offers interpretive sites summarizing the region's Ice Age, Geological and Hanford Site histories.
Fyall says Benton County's parks stand out from those normally seen in urban areas.
"These are large acreage (parks) that feature trails for hiking and cyclists and horse riding.' Fyall added. "We don't do ball fields, or swimming pools and that sort of thing."
Fyall says the county only has two full time employees for its parks department. The county relies on formal relationships with organizations and informal volunteering to keep the parks maintained.
For more information about Benton County Parks, here's a link.
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Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals