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Federation Forest State Park to remain open

Federation Forest might be in for reduced staffing and hours of operation could be sliced, but it appears the wooded attraction east of Enumclaw will remain open.

Exactly the opposite was assumed just a week ago, when a dreary state budget had led the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission to announce Federation Forest would close July 1.

A turning point was implementation of the Discover Pass, a legislative proposal that has already been signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire. Anyone visiting a state park – or other recreational land managed by the state – will pay a $10 fee; also available will be a $30 yearly pass. The requirement for a Discover Pass is effective July 1.

The overall health of the park system was explained in a May 17 letter from Parks and Recreation Director Don Hoch to State Rep. Christopher Hurst. The two had met a day earlier and Hurst had lobbied on behalf of Federation Forest.

"I now believe we will be able to get by with staffing changes and some additional help from the community at Federation Forest State Park (and the other parks in your district), rather than the 'zero service' scenario that we were facing," Hoch wrote. "Zero service," he added, means a park's gates are closed, the electricity and water are turned off, restrooms are locked and there is no staff available.

"Without the Discover Pass, it is likely that many of the 119 Washington state parks would have been at risk for 'zero service,'" Hoch wrote. "It is hard to imagine such a decimated state park system."

Sandy Mealing, a spokeswoman with the Parks and Recreation Commission, said no information is available beyond the fact that Federation Forest is safe for at least a year. Items like staffing levels or days and hours of operation have yet to be decided.

Federation Forest is about 18 miles east of Enumclaw, wedged between state Route 410 and the White River. It is a day-use facility with 12 miles of hiking trails winding through 619 acres of old-growth evergreens. In addition, there is an interpretive center, complete with gift shop.

The park was dedicated in 1949 and was acquired in four parcels from 1941 to 1971.

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