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Wash. State Park Employees Face Holiday Layoffs

OLYMPIA, Wash. - About 160 Washington State Parks employees are receiving letters this week explaining that their jobs may be eliminated or reduced. Park officials issued these warnings because of a budget shortfall.

Until this past summer Washington State Parks were state-funded and free to the public. A new Discover Pass user fee program replaced tax funding.

But sales of these passes didn't take off as hoped. That created an $11 million hole. Dozens of rangers and other employees are suffering the consequences this holiday season.

Fritz Osborne is a ranger at Columbia Hills State Park near The Dalles.

"I think every single field staff person — whether you're a ranger, construction/maintenance, or park aid — I think everybody feels like they're at risk," he says.

Osborne was one of several state park employees who showed up in Olympia this week. They told state lawmakers that recent budget decisions were made too hastily.

But the parks employees went home empty handed.

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Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Joe Concannon