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POPULAR GOLD BAR TOURIST ATTRACTION COULD BE CLOSED
March 21, 2009
(SKY VALLEY) -- One of the Gold Bar area's most popular attractions, Wallace Falls State Park, could possibly be closed temporarily as one of the measures state officials could take to deal with a radically reduced budget figure brought on by continuing drops in revenue.
The huge Sky Valley park is one of about 33 state parks the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is looking at closing as part of the cost savings needed to reach the new budget figures.
Wallace Falls draws about 145,000 visitors a year to the Sky Valley and is very popular due to easily accessed hiking trails, the 265 foot waterfall created by the Wallace River and beautiful old-growth forest.
If the state does “mothball” the thirty-three parks the plan would be to reopen them as soon as state revenues return to a degree of normalcy.
If Wallace Falls is closed temporarily, the front gates to the park would be closed but park patrons would still be allowed to enter at their own risk and there would be no rest rooms or other amenities for public use.
A final decision on the park issue is not expected before late April. At that time the state legislature is expected to pass the final state budget. Closing Wallace Falls would save the state about $160,000 a year.
News of the potential closure of the park follows another grim state revenue forecast two days ago, presupposing what state Senator Rodney Tom, D-Medina, the vice-chair of the Senate’s budget writing committee said would be “a devastating budget” that would be felt by every family in Washington State.
Another legislator, Senator Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens said the numbers were “a wake-up call" and that the public should be very concerned.
The new state report predicts that tax receipts will be down or flat for months ahead and if so would effectively push a projected deficit hole in the next state budget to nearly $9 Billion dollars which would force the Legislature to cut funding for things like pay raises, social services and dozens of state funded programs.
It is also possible an estimated 10,000 workers might see their jobs evaporate. There could be up to 4,000 employees cut from higher education and public schools with the rest of the job cuts coming from government agencies and various government departments.
If 10,000 jobs were to be cut that would amount to about a 5% reduction of the state work force in those areas.