Two area parks on “mothball” list

A pair of Enumclaw-area state parks – Flaming Geyser and Federation Forest – are on the chopping block as a result of a budget-slashing plan drafted by the state’s Parks and Recreation Commission.

Actually, “chopping block” is too harsh a description; the commission’s cost-saving proposal would place the two local parks in “mothball” status, meaning they could be resurrected when the state is facing a stronger economy.

In suggesting Flaming Geyser and Federation Forest be mothballed, the commission was following an executive order issued by the governor requiring all departments to slash their budgets by 10 percent.

Virginia Painter, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department, said commissioners looked at two alternatives when deciding how to reduce costs. One option kept more department employees on staff but called for a greater number of parks placed on the mothball list; the option they chose, Painter said, kept more parks open and had a greater impact on staffing.

Painter said mothballed parks are not totally off limits to the public; for example, “no trespassing” signs will not be posted. But entrances may be blocked, power will be shut off and restrooms will be locked. In such instances, she said, anyone entering the park is doing so at their own risk.

Minimal upkeep is done, she added – just enough to keep the park in decent shape for an opening when the economy allows.

Painter said the commission’s recommendation is just that – a recommendation. Nothing is official until the Legislature adopts its two-year budget during the coming session. Until that time, she said, the public can lobby legislators in hopes of changing the parks plan.

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