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Kanaskat-Palmer park remains closed

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

Kanaskat-Palmer State Park is still closed after 85 to 90 mile per hour winds - which whipped through the region during the wind storm a couple of weeks ago - caused damage in the park.

Brian Rosencranz, the Washington State Parks area manager for the Green River Gorge, said the winds damaged or felled about 300 trees.

The park, north of Enumclaw, will remain closed until mid-January.

The trees damaged or taken down by the winds were a combination of sizes, most of which were hemlock suffering from a root disease, making them more prone to blow over. Plus, Rosencranz added, evergreen trees have a shallow root system.

This isn't the first storm that has caused significant tree damage at Kanaskat-Palmer. The last big storm to cause significant damage, Rosencranz said was in 1993.

While the trees caused a lot of hang ups and dangerous situations, no structures sustained serious damage and nobody was injured, although workers had to clear the way for five campers to leave the park. One bathroom roof was hit by a tree, but no shelters sustained damage.

Most of the work being completed is felling and chipping of the trees. Rangers at Kanaskat-Palmer and from other state parks have come to help, and a Department of Natural Resources women's crew has come in to supervise work.

As most of the trees damaged were hemlock, and hemlock is not a very valuable source of wood, Rosencranz said, not much wood is going to be hauled out of the park. Actually most trees, so long as they are not blocking pathways or creating a dangerous situation will be left in the park.

Rosencranz said he doesn't have an estimate of the work costs, but officials are keeping track of the time worked and the equipment used. On an average, 15 workers are cleaning up the park every day. Officials are keeping track of costs for possible reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Kanaskat-Palmer State Park is 11 miles north of Enumclaw, near Cumberland.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

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