By Amber and Dov Rose
For The Sentinel 

New parks manager says come have fun


Lou Marzeles

COULD YOU CALL IT DISC-GO?: Jill Sprance, new manager of seven state parks around Goldendale including Brooks and the Observatory, stands next to a 'hole' on the disc golf course at Brooks Memorial State Park.

So what's your disc golf handicap?

Never heard of the sport? Just ask Jill Sprance, the new area manager of seven state parks in Klickitat County, about it. She'll not only tell you; she'll show you how to play.

Seated at a sunny picnic table in Brooks Memorial State Park, Sprance brought out what looked like four Frisbees of different colors, though technically they're discs, not Frisbees, since the latter is a brand name. The object of the game: to get your disc in each "hole," a multilayered wire basket for receiving carefully aimed discs, along the nine-hole disc golf course being developed at the park.

But Sprance is more than just an avid disc golfer. After graduation from Vassar in 2005 with a degree in field biology, she worked in Orange County, California, managing the not-for-profit Open Space Corporation. They worked in tandem with the county and the cities of Irvine and Newport Beach, managing public trails, nature exhibits, and a volunteer program.

Sprance has always loved the Pacific Northwest and in 2011 mountain biked through the Columbia Gorge. When the parks job came open, she applied and beat the competition. According to Scott Griffith, Eastern Region Manager, in her interview Sprance "demonstrated a passion and desire to work within the Washington State Parks and especially has shown a devotion and enthusiasm for the Goldendale area. Ms. Sprance was hired as area manager for the seven parks within the Goldendale area and began on April 29, 2019."

Commenting on her qualifications to manage the local facilities (which include Brooks, Maryhill, the Goldendale Observatory, Doug's Beach, Columbia Hills, and the Klickitat Trail, Sprance noted that working for the state is not that different from working for a non-profit. Altogether she supervises 10 full time and eight seasonal employees.

She has regular offices in Maryhill and Columbia Hills State Parks, but at present her "office" at Brooks Memorial State Park (682 acres on both sides of the highway) is the great outdoors, amidst the buttercups, clover, and quaking aspens.

Getting back to disc golf, the sport has been around for at least 50 years. As in a traditional golf course, the equipment is separated into putters (for near-in shots) and drivers (for longer distances). Sprance says that disc golf embodies two qualities she most prizes in public paths: fun and accessibility. Unlike traditional golf, it doesn't require a great deal of money and experience and can be enjoyed by all. You can go to to learn more about the history of disc golf. If you want to check out disc sets of your own, here are a couple of links:, and

Sprance feels lucky that her Parks team around Goldendale is amazing and super knowledgeable. She calls them skilled and dedicated to the needs of county residents and visitors.

Asked why she came to the Goldendale area, she answers, "The breathtaking scenery, endless recreational opportunities and warm, welcoming people of the area made Klickitat County an ideal place to settle. After having lived in a few other, very different places, this area checked all the boxes for me as a wonderful place to live."


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