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La PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- More than 30 Oregon state parks were free to the public Wednesday on the annual New Year's First Day Hikes. Participating parks included the La Pine and Smith Rock state parks.
Throughout the day, park rangers and volunteers guided people on hikes while sharing stories about the park’s history, geology, wildlife, and plants.
NewsChannel 21 spoke Wednesday with RJ Vidito, a volunteer camp host whose new year marks his first year volunteering for First Day Hikes.
“It’s my first time doing the New Year’s hike and my first time being a camp host,” Vidito said. “Being a hospitality type of person, I get to talk to some wonderful people and meet other people out there from different ways of life.”
Heidi Kiesel, a ranger at La Pine State Park, shared the same sentiment, saying her favorite part about the First Day Hikes is how the day brings people together.
“This is everybody’s park, and we want folks to come out and enjoy it, whether they’re from another state or just down the road,” Kiesel said. “So I really hope they are encouraged to come out and explore state parks. We’re here to serve, and we hope to create that partnership with the public.”
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has sponsored First Day Hikes annually since 2012. Day-use parking fees were waived at all participating parks.