Friends of Fort Worden Secretary Terry LeLievre, President Zan Manning and board member Claude Manning stand in front of Alexander’s Castle, a Fort Worden landmark and the chosen logo of the Friends of Fort Worden, a volunteer organization that works to better the local state park. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Fort Worden volunteers win big in State Parks awards

PORT TOWNSEND — Volunteers from Fort Worden were well-represented in this year’s Washington State Parks Volunteer Awards, earning accolades for the thousands of hours they contributed to the state park in 2016.

“There was a lot of competition this year,” said Bill Drath, volunteer coordinator for State Parks in the Olympic View area and one of the people on the selection committee for this year’s volunteers. “It was tough, and I’m just glad some of my volunteers made it.”

Fort Worden volunteers won in the Outstanding Contribution by an Individual, Hosts of the Year and Group of the Year categories. The award recipients were announced Feb. 14.

Volunteers were nominated by parks staff last fall, and in January, officials met in Olympia to decide the award winners.

“We just look for someone who has just gone above and beyond what normal volunteers do,” Drath said.

This year, Lindy Adelmann was recognized for her outstanding contributions as an individual volunteer. Adelmann volunteered at the Fort Worden gift shop, eventually moving from Montana to Port Townsend so she could volunteer year-round.

However, the awards showed that it’s not just locals who love Fort Worden.

Mark Doss of Bremerton won honorable mention for his contributions, and this year’s Hosts of the Year were Shelton residents Bert and Cathy Miller for their more than 6,000 volunteer hours at the Fort Worden campground.

The Millers have served as camp hosts since 2003, racking up a combined 6,404 volunteer hours in the process.

However, much of the volunteer efforts at Fort Worden are coordinated by the Friends of Fort Worden, which was named the 2016 Group of the Year by State Parks.

The 135 members of the organization contributed more than 5,000 hours to projects at the park, 2,000 of those hours going to trail and beach maintenance.

“We’re an entirely volunteer organization, so that’s what makes this award so sweet,” said Friends of Fort Worden President Zan Manning.

“We all have one thing in common, and that’s a love for Fort Worden, but it is difficult to get volunteers to put in this much work for just the love of the park.”

In 2016, the Friends of Fort Worden completed some major projects for the park, including building an earthen bridge across a deep gully in the Chinese Gardens; the removal of invasive scotch broom plants with help from AmeriCorps and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center; beach restoration and native plant protection with the Washington Native Plant Society; creating Sunday guided walking tours of the park; and notching more than $60,000 worth of Discovery Pass sales, which go toward the Fort Worden Public Development Authority and State Parks.

However, the group has consistently maintained very small but very important aspects of the park such as running the gift shop, putting up trail signs, maintaining more than 12 miles of trail and providing free pet waste bags.

Friends of Fort Worden is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit incorporated in 1993, but according to Manning, it’s made huge strides in the past two years, adding more volunteers to the organization and coordinating more projects to benefit the state park.

According to Manning, the group’s first project for 2017 is coordinating with State Parks employees to put in bike racks around the park.

The first one is going outside of the Taps bar near the entrance of the park.

“Right now, it’s in our garage,” said Claude Manning, a board member for the Friends of Fort Worden.

More information on the Friends of Fort Worden projects and how to become a volunteer can be found at www.fwfriends.org.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.