The gift ‘thrilled’ park rangers, who say it will directly contribute to hiring hundreds of volunteers and improving infrastructure.
Born in 1924, Washington native Bette Wallace traveled the world, was an avid skier, and worked with the U.S. Army in Seattle, Alaska, and Tokyo.
Wallace will also be remembered as the woman who donated $1 million from her estate to Washington’s national parks. Announced last week, the contribution to Washington’s National Park Fund (WNPF) via the Elizabeth Ruth Living Trust represents the largest gift in the fund’s history.
According to WNPF, the money will be split evenly among Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic national parks.
“This funding comes at a pivotal time for Washington’s three largest national parks,” said Sarah Creachbaum, superintendent at Olympic National Park.
“Our country’s parks have experienced many financial challenges in recent years, and there is a significant maintenance backlog. This wonderful donation via WNPF enables us to invest in much-needed safety technology that can quite literally save lives in Washington for years to come.”
$1 Million Gift to Washington Parks
Washington’s three parks comprise 1.66 million acres of wilderness. According to WNPF, Wallace’s gift will serve several purposes.
Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks plan to combine funds. Among other things, the two parks will implement a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system to help better monitor rangers in the field.
According to the WNPF, the new technology will “greatly improve employee safety and response times during regular and emergency operations.”
Meanwhile, North Cascades National Park funds are mainly for infrastructure improvements. These will benefit park visitors and “hundreds of volunteers” who oversee search and rescue, maintenance, youth education programs, and more.
“We wish Bette was still here,” said Laurie Ward, executive director for WNPF. “So the park rangers and I could personally show her all of the significant park infrastructure enabled by her major gift.”