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NPS "ambassador" promoting Lake Roosevelt


Devon Beekler is helping to promote the National Park Service's Centennial, being celebrated through Aug. 25 next year. She hails from Lancaster, Penn., and is available to help individuals and groups understand and appreciate our national parks. - Roger S. Lucas photo

Devon Beekler is in awe of coulee country.

She hails from Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, a garden of sorts.

Lancaster is right in the center of Amish country, where farmland is tailored, farm buildings are kept better than houses, and people in old-fashioned buggies may have the right of way.

By education, Beekler is a landscape architect, a graduate of Penn State, and is locked into a year-long position with the National Park Service here to help the agency promote its 100th anniversary.

Here, the landscape is so different. She could probably suggest a planting of trees here and there to make her mark as a landscape architect in coulee country.

But that's not the role she is in right now.

She came aboard the NPS assignment as "centennial ambassador" in June this year and will be handling duties getting people to know about and appreciate national parks, with emphasis on the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

The NPS is celebrating its 100th year in concert with a national park promotion called "Find Your Park."

The centennial celebration runs from Aug. 25 this year until next August. Beekler hopes her stay here will be extended beyond the 12 months so she can see some of the events she has worked on come to pass.

One special thing the NPS is working on is to provide free admittance to its 59 major parks for all fourth graders and their families.

Locally, the NPS learned recently that it has landed a traveling quilt show that features some 177 quilts depicting the fauna, physical features and birds and animals found in the nation's national parks. The show will be held next July 1-4 in Coulee Dam.

The Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area will wind up the centennial celebration with a gathering at Fort Spokane on the exact anniversary date, Aug. 25. That was the date in 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the act of Congress that created the National Park Service.

Beekler is experiencing her first trip to the Pacific Northwest. She drove here from her home in Lancaster, cross-country, taking 15 days.

She said she had in mind trees, not realizing that the state of Washington is made up of a number of geographical areas, not all of them with a lot of trees.

Devon will man NPS booths in fairs throughout the state, providing information about the centennial and particularly about the LRNRA. She also had a National Park Service booth at last weekend's Harvest Festival at North Dam Park.

What does she plan to do when her year is up? Good question, and Beekler says she will take the full year to decide.

Right now she is working to get volunteers to take part in "National Public Lands Day" at Spring Canyon boat launch, Saturday, Sept. 26. The NPS is spearheading a shoreline cleanup day from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. She says to be an NPS volunteer, bring water, sunscreen, long pants, closed-toe shoes, life vests and work gloves.

Beekler can be reached for additional information at 509-754-7829.

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