Cranberry Lake at Deception Pass State Park remains closed to swimmers

It appears a lot of people came to Deception Pass to swim at Cranberry Lake.

After closing the popular swimming hole in August due to high levels of E. Coli bacteria, the number of people visiting one of the busiest state parks in Washington has dropped.

“It’s had a huge effect on attendance,” said Jack Hartt, manager of Deception Pass State Park. Although he didn’t have hard numbers available, on sunny warm days when the parking lot should have been packed with cars, it’s only been about one-third full.

He estimated the dip in attendance has cost the park tens of thousands of dollars in visitor fees.

The closure comes during a time park officials are struggling to raise money. The park system instituted the Discover Pass in 2011, but revenues from the $10 and $30 passes have fallen short of expectations.

Park and county health officials decided to close the Cranberry Lake swimming area, which comprises the western part of the lake, in August because of persistently high levels of the dangerous bacteria. The high E. Coli levels stem from the droppings of the 50 to 80 geese that currently live in the area.

Contact with fecal-contaminated bacteria can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. The risk is greatest for young children, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system.

Hartt said staff is still researching possible solutions to the park’s goose problem.

The lake still has high levels of E. Coli, which is found at the bottom, however swimmers would stir up the water and it could pose a problem, Hartt said.

He said he hopes a solution can be found so the swimming area can be opened sometime in the spring of 2013.


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