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Federation Forest & Conservation
WHO’S THE “FEDERATION” BEHIND THE NAME FEDERATION FOREST STATE PARK?
It's the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Washington State. And here's how this park became a reality: Back in the mid 1920s, saving a sample of great trees for future generations was the idea of Jeanne Caithness Greenlee, an Everett High School teacher and a member of Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs, now General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC). Miss Caithness had witnessed the destruction of the mighty forests in her home state of Wisconsin and did not wish the same fate for our majestic stands of tall, old trees here in Washington State.
During the 1925-1927 administration of our 16th State President Mrs. Ester Maltby, Miss Caithness (aka Tree Lady) the Forestry Chairman, proposed a state project to purchase and preserve a stand of mighty old trees in a park setting for all people to enjoy.
It took about two years for clubwomen to raise $25,000 to purchase from a lumber company the 62.89 acres tract of giant firs, cedars, and hemlocks on the western slope of Snoqualmie Pass, eight miles down from the summit. Dedication of the park was delayed until the new transcontinental road was completed through this tract and was held in 1934 during the term of our State President Mrs. E. E. Corwin. It was a festive occasion with visiting dignitaries from all over the country and speeches by Mrs. Jeanne Caithness Greenlee and Mrs. Maltby. Misfortune descended upon the park in earnest. Necessary slash burning on the west boundary got out of hand in hot September weather and hopelessly charred some of the finest specimens; the widening of the highway had taken its toll on the trees; and a bad wind storm brought down a number of trees. The Highway Department instructed the Parks Department to top of number of the most spectacular trees. Due to an inadvertent trespass by a logging company on the east side, twenty two of the mightiest giants were harvested, most of which were over one thousand years old. The state was compensated a mere $1,000 for this timber. The final blow was a wind storm on December 2, 1938, which blew down nineteen trees, a few across the highway. The Parks Department was ordered to cut back all trees for two hundred feet on each side of the roadway. That was just too much for the park to withstand and the Chairman of the State Parks Commission advised the Federation to give its consent to selling the tract back to the lumber company, as had been agreed in the deed, should any disaster overtake the transaction. A bill was immediately passed by the Legislature placing that $25,000 in a new fund with which to buy a new Federation Grove.
In 1941 Mrs. Belle Reeves, who had served as a Legislator and Secretary of State and was now Chairman of the State Parks Commission, learned of 220+ acres of young growth on the Chinook Pass. However, the west boundary cut through some of the best trees and should the timber company who owned the adjacent land cut down their trees, this would leave the new stand of trees exposed to harsh winds, with the possibility of the same fate as the first park.
Through a stoke of good luck, Mr. Otto Case, State Land Commissioner and a friend of Federation, recalled a much-contested early ruling which set aside a small percentage of the gasoline tax in its early years for roadside protection of the highways. After consulting the Attorney General, it was determined that it would be legal to allocate some of that fund to the protection of the State's own forest exhibit, if a properly prepared bill was passed by the Legislature. The bill was written by Mr. Case and the Attorney General and with the presence of a large number of Federated Clubwomen, it passed. This provided $125,000 for 314 more acres which should provide an excellent barrier to mischievous western breezes.
The new location for the park is located fifteen miles past Enumclaw on the mountain road leading to the summit of Chinook Pass. It is on the White River, which has its source in Emmons Glacier. For more than three miles the highway passes through Federation Forest. Dedication of the new park took place July 16, 1949, with much fanfare and past Federation State President, Mrs. E. E. Corwin, announced that the Board of the Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs had voted to honor Mrs. Ester Maltby by dedicating to her a trail in this grove, whereon should be erected a bench of native stone so that any who trod that way might rest and meditate in this peaceful place.
Miss Catherine Montgomery, an educator at Western Washington University, an avid outdoors woman and a Clubwoman deeded 2.25 acres to Federation Forest State Park November 16, 1951. Upon her passing in 1957, she left her entire estate to Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs for the improvement of the park. The Catherine Montgomery Interpretive Center was constructed with a large portion of these funds. Through the years additional funds from her gift, along with donations from clubs and individual club members throughout the state, have been spent for equipment and improvements at the park.
An additional 60.5 acres was deeded to the park from the Department of Natural Resources November 29, 1971, bringing the total acreage to 619 acres. The General Federation of Women's Clubs of Washington State maintains a watchful eye over preservation and funding issues for the park. Clubs visit the park to perform volunteer work, especially helping to maintain the interpretive garden beds outside the Catherine Montgomery Interpretive Center.
The web site tells us that the rest of the park is a day-use natural area. Visitors can enjoy the beauty and diversity of 600 acres of old growth Douglas Firs, with mature Western Hemlock, Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar trees. Visitors can hike through five distinct ecosystems within a radius of just one mile. There are short interpretive loops that make this an ideal experience for small children.
To learn more, the "links" portion of our web site has a direct link to the Washington State Parks web site for Federation Forest. There you will find park information, an interactive map plus details on when the park is open.
download the Federation Forest Catherine Montgomery Interpretive Center Plan THIS Adobe PDF file
download download the Federation Forest Catherine Montgomery Interpretive Center Plan Financials THIS Adobe PDF file
Federation Forest State Park, 1950's Postcard
Those who enjoy the "history behind the history" can read a paper written by Esther Stark Maltby and presented in November of 1953. Esther served as 16th GFWC-WS President from 1925-1927, Follow this link to Esther's report. download Federation Forest History Adobe PDF file
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