LYNNWOOD — As a mom watched her daughter climb atop a 7-foot boulder at one of the area’s newest parks this past week, she marveled at how nature blended into the playground.
Keri Morgret and 3-year-old Eloise have been regulars at the newly built portion of Lake Stickney Park since crews finished work in late May. They returned for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
“She loves it,” Morgret said. “I have watched her develop in the two weeks that it has been open.”
The playground on the west side of Lake Stickney is one of two new parks in unincorporated Snohomish County that attempt to blend man-made structures with the natural surroundings. Felled logs surround the play area with swings and a slide, plus views of woods and wetlands.
Construction crews also recently finished work at Logan Park, in the Alderwood Manor area east of Lynnwood. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled there at noon Tuesday.
Snohomish County parks officials are joining a national trend by attempting to provide children with more challenging play areas, encouraging more time outdoors.
Kids are developing a “nature deficit disorder almost like an attention deficit disorder,” said Rich Dolesh, a vice president with the nonprofit National Recreation and Park Association. A 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods,” is credited with bringing attention to the phenomenon.
“There’s a clear recognition that kids are sucked into screen time for many hours a day,” Dolesh said. “The time they spend outside playing is reduced to a fraction of an hour.”
The bond between kids and the natural world, he said, “is disappearing.”
At Logan Park, a man-made play structure is meant to resemble a fire lookout tower. Retaining walls are embedded with boulders — convenient climbing spots for kids or seats for adults. Sandy play areas mimic ponds and lookout-spots.
Thomas Hartzell, a senior county parks planner, said his four young children helped inspire the new park designs. He waxed about the trees chosen at Logan, hoping they would provide a fun landscape for kids to wander, as well as shade and even a soundtrack of sorts.
“The leaves of the quaking aspen rustle in the wind, creating a sweet auditory groove in the park,” Hartzell said.
The park covers about 5 acres at the corner of Logan Road and Locust Way, north of Brier. Once a sand and gravel pit, the county developed it in the 1970s. The recent improvements started last year and cost just under $200,000, said Shannon Hays, with the parks department.
Last week’s ribbon-cutting at Lake Stickney doubled as a victory lap for area homeowners who banded together more than two decades ago to keep housing developments from taking over sensitive wetlands on the west side of the lake, which feeds Swamp Creek.
“We all worked together to make this happen,” said Joyce Altaras , one of the leaders of the effort. “We’ve been a huge, wonderful team and we did it.”
The county cobbled together 25 acres through several purchases. It spent about $4.7 million on land, aided by donations and the county’s Conservation Futures program, Hays said. Another $1.2 million was spent on development and design.
New features include a viewing mound where people can see the lake over the trees and shrubs on the western shore. There’s a fish-themed slide, swings, paths and an open patch of grass.
A dog park was built earlier in another area.
Morgret said her daughter’s favorite features are “a tossup between the slide and the rocks.” She’s also fond of the logs around the playground.
“My daughter’s into gymnastics,” she said, “so I call those her balance beams.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned at noon Tuesday to celebrate a new play area at Snohomish County’s Logan Park, 1411 Logan Road, Lynnwood.
More info: www.SnoCoParks.org