GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 99-5
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


SCHNUR, Susan, Department of Natural Resources, Washington Geological Survey, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia, WA 98504-7007

State geological surveys can play an important role in promoting geoheritage and encouraging geotourism. Washington State has a rich geologic story, with its active volcanoes, glacial outburst flood-scoured landscapes, and history of subduction and accretion along its western margin. To showcase this geoheritage, the Washington Geological Survey released a new geotourism website in May 2021 that tells the geologic stories of 100 publicly accessible sites in Washington State. The website, named Washington 100, uses striking graphics and short, easily understandable text, paired with a simple and intuitive navigation to draw the visitor in and educate them about the geology of both popular and lesser-known corners of the state. The website was developed in partnership with the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and features about 30 state parks, in addition to other publicly accessible lands, including national parks, national forests, state-managed lands, and county and city parks. Site selection followed several criteria: (1) iconic, striking geology that is easily recognizable by non-geologists; (2) a variety of geologic stories; and (3) even distribution across the state, providing visitors opportunities to explore regardless of where they live.

The success of the website provides an example for others seeking to develop geoheritage-related materials. Strong visuals are an important part of developing both web and print content, and the website’s innovative navigation, striking graphics, and abundance of photographs, maps, diagrams, and videos are critical in grabbing the attention of visitors. The graphics provide a good balance to the concise text, encouraging readers to engage in the geologic story rather than clicking away.

Promotion is an important part of any geoheritage effort, and the Washington 100 site was broadly advertised through mailing lists and newsletters, with promotional posters, postcards, stickers, and tourist rack cards distributed to state parks visitors centers. The site has been enthusiastically received, indicating that this is a successful format for promoting geoheritage.