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State budget ax poised to fall on Federation Forest State Park

Supporters of Federation Forest State Park thought they had ten thousand options for keeping the treed attraction open, but it appears the fate of the park is already sealed.

As a part of the sweeping cutbacks facing state agencies, the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission has recommended closure of Federation Forest. Nothing will be certain until a final version of the biennial budget is adopted.

The state park is approximately 18 miles east of Enumclaw, just off state Route 410 and bordered by the White River. It’s a day-use area with 619 acres of old growth evergreens, 12 miles of hiking trail, three interpretive trails, an interpretive center with a gift shop and four picnic areas.

A late-in-the-game effort to save the park was initiated by the Rainier Audubon Society, in conjunction with the South Sound Sierra Club and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Stephan Feldman, vice president of the Rainier Audubon Society and a member of the group’s board of directors, said the club has pledged $10,000 toward keeping Federation Forest open for at least another year.

Feldman has plans to look for donations throughout Enumclaw and Greenwater, but said his organization has the full $10,000 available if necessary.

Feldman explained the Audubon Society has been operating on the theory that if a portion of Federation Forest’s budget came from outside sources - perhaps 10 percent – the state would fund the rest.

Apparently, that’s not the case.

Sandy Mealing, a spokeswoman for the state’s Parks and Recreation Commission, said Federation Forest requires $135,000 annually just for staffing and maintenance. The overall cost exceeds that figure, she said.

To keep Federation Forest open, she said, someone would most likely have to step forward with the entire operating cost.

The park was acquired, built and organized through the work of Catherine Montgomery and her affiliation with the Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs. The park was dedicated in 1949 and was acquired in four parcels from 1941 to 1971.

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