A forested parcel of land near Enumclaw has been purchased and will be preserved, protected from future development.
The announcement was made Feb. 21 that 155 acres have been secured for public use, thanks to a partnership between King County Parks and the nonprofit Forterra. The acreage has an interesting history, once used as a private wedding venue.
Featuring a healthy forest, large meadows and a small lake, the land is said to be home to black bears, cougars, bobcats, numerous bird species and other wildlife. The property sits just east, and a bit north, of the Enumclaw city limits.
The acreage doesn’t have great public access, but that’s something that could be remedied in the future, according to a spokesman for King County Parks. He said the acquisition fits with the county’s ongoing mission to protect vulnerable land from urban sprawl.
The acreage was purchased by Forterra, which will hold the property while King County Parks raises the $1.59 million that was needed to purchase the land. The county will eventually reimburse Forterra and take ownership. A portion of the county’s reimbursement will likely come from the voter-approved 2014-19 King County Parks levy, which is used to help fund open space acquisitions and maintenance. King County is also pursuing grant funding to cover a portion of the cost.
Public use of the property will not be allowed until the land is under county control.
“Securing this land provides a great connection to lowland forests, provides a habitat buffer between Enumclaw and working forestlands, and provides public access to a network of recreational trails in the 80,000-acre White River Forest,” Forterra president Gene Duvernoy noted in a press release.
The land sits east and north of Battersby Avenue, past the county-operated transfer station.
The 155 acres has a colorful and romantic history.
Once a farm, the land was converted to a wedding venue. According to regional history resources, the business boomed and, by the late 1960s or early ’70s, became known as Little Lake Ranch. The name later changed to Wedding Wonderland and a full line of wedding services were offered, from flowers and food to photographers and a minister.
A postcard issued at the time included this: “Have your outdoor wedding held in a jewel-like setting amidst tall firs, strutting peacocks, magnificent floral baskets. All this and more beside a shimmering 14-acre lake. Every Bride’s Dream.”