County considering plans for forested acres near Enumclaw

Come to the April 29 public meeting about Little Lake Forest.

A forested parcel of county-owned property, one with a colorful and happy history, will be the subject of a community meeting in Enumclaw.

The land now owned by King County Parks is 155 acres in size, originally served as a homestead and was later transformed into a popular wedding venue.

The land is presently off-limits to the public and King County Parks is asking for public help in shaping the future of what it calls Little Lake Forest. The eventual use of the forested property will be discussed from 6 to 8 p.m. April 29 in the Enumclaw High School commons.

The land is on Enumclaw’s eastern fringe, accessed by Battersby Avenue with a couple of turns onto 292nd Avenue Southeast and 435th Place Southeast.

At the April 29 session, county representatives will provide a brief overview of Little Lake Forest and community members will be invited to share their feedback and ideas for future amenities at the property.

“Preserving this forested land ensures continued public recreational opportunities and helps protect valuable habitat for generations to come,” said King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, whose district includes the Enumclaw Plateau.

Located just east of Enumclaw, Little Lake Forest will, in the words of the county, “be managed to protect and enhance ecological values, provide opportunities for low-impact recreation, and demonstrate ecologically sustainable forest management.” The county’s goal is to produce a clear trail use and development plan that ensures continued recreational opportunities. Also on the county’s priority list is maintaining the property’s quality habitat for a variety of wildlife.

The story of the forest property – remembered best by those who have live around Enumclaw for a few decades, at least – really started when a Canadian couple purchased the land in the early 1950s. Following her husband’s death, Vera Dyar opened the land for friends’ weddings. That proved popular and, in the late 1960s or early ’70s, she began advertising Little Lake Ranch as a wedding venue. Business boomed and, eventually, “Lady Dyar” changed the name to Wedding Wonderland and hosted perhaps 5,000 weddings during her two-decade run.

All things come to an end and such was the story with Wedding Wonderland. Still home to healthy forests, large meadows and a small lake, the property was prized for its recreational opportunities. The land was purchased by Forterra, which held the property while King County Parks raised the $1.59 million purchase amount to reimburse the land conservation and stewardship organization.

The county views the 155-acre parcel as a connection to lowland forests, a habitat buffer between Enumclaw and working forestland, and a means of improving access to a network of nearby recreational trails.

Preserving this property for public use advances a county vision to preserve 65,000 acres of remaining important open space lands within a generation (30 years), before the opportunity is lost due to population growth and development pressure.

For more information about the upcoming meeting or to provide input, contact Daphne Payne at 206-477-3391 or daphne.payne@kingcounty.gov.

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