Rory Wallgren is the Deception Pass Park Foundation’s handyman. He is a local resident who lives on the park boundary and has been an avid volunteer in the park since 2017, donating hundreds of hours annually to ensure the park is well kept and maintained. His love and passion are focused on any volunteer job that is labor intensive and can develop a sweat. When I first met Rory, his focus was on reclaiming our trails that were overgrown and on the quick pathway toward being reclaimed by nature. Within a very short time Rory had virtually every trail in the park brushed back enough to allow co-hikers to walk together. It was not unusual for me to contact Rory about a trail, only to have that entire trail brushed and cleared by the end of the day.
Deception Pass State park has approximately 360 picnic tables. Picnic tables had not been updated for quite some time, resulting in an unsightly and run-down look. In one year the park has had to rebuild or replace over 100 picnic tables and will require an additional 40 per year to stay on top of the deterioration. Rory has been a key partner toward catching up to this very busy project. It was not uncommon to see Rory complete and help install 10 tables in a day. The most notable picnic table project Rory participated in was the building of numerous Civilian Conservation Corps style picnic tables. He and some of his team members built 18 of these tables from scratch. The tables were strategically placed in a heritage area of the park and immediately had a positive impact on visitors to the park. Rory was highlighted in a King 5 news special on this project and the Skagit Valley Herald. Rory’s charisma and enthusiasm for the park is extremely contagious.
There are many projects the Foundation develops or takes on that requires additional labor that the park has neither the time nor resources to provide. Rory jumps right in and takes on these projects. The most notable of these for this year was some of the labor that was needed to get the “Lake Store” up and running for the Foundation. That task was completed on very short notice and will allow the Foundation to have a stable fund-raising source for the foreseeable future.
Recently Rory has been involved in the heavy lifting of two additional projects. The first project is the re-landscaping of the Deception Pass Administrative Office. The brush was heavily overgrown and was unsightly. After much guidance from a Master Gardener, Rory has been doing much of the heavy lifting like digging holes, removing rocks, removing overgrown grass, and hauling dirt. The transformation of the office with his help has been stunning. Finally, Rory is a force multiplier when it comes to maintaining our campgrounds. He has volunteered to help paint all the dumpster screens in the campground, remove branches and debris from the campsites, hedge back and rake campsites, and clean out fire rings. Without Rory’s enthusiasm and energy, this is work that would likely not get completed, especially during the staffing challenges during COVID.