Eastern Washington wildlife areas to be day use only until further notice

Courtesy: Yoshi Takekawa

SPOKANE, Wash. — If you’re planning on using wildlife areas in eastern Washington, you’ll only be able to do that during the day because areas managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will not allow overnight use starting this week.

Because of the increased fire risk and nationally depleted firefighting resources, WDFW said all eastern Washington wildlife areas, including water access areas within these areas, will be open for day use only starting Friday, July 23.

The announcement comes on the heels of recreation access closures to the Methow Wildlife Area in north central Washington due to how close it is to the Cub Creek 2 Fire. The closures include the Pearrygin Lake water access site, as well as Rendezvous, Early Winters and Methow units of the area.

Previously, WDFW closed several wildlife area units in southeast Washington due to the Dry Gulch Fire in Asotin County. These include the W.T. Wooten unit of the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area, the 4-0 Ranch and Grouse Flats units of the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area, and the Asotin Creek and Weatherly units of the Asotin Creek Wildlife Area.

WDFW said the closures will be in effect until further notice. State land managers will meet weekly to assess the possibility for further closures or reopenings.

Current closures apply to both motorized and on-foot uses. However, the department said water access areas that are not part of a wildlife area will not be limited to day use only, unless posted otherwise.

WDFW said because an emergency order has been issued since early July is still in effect and being enforced, This prohibits several activities:

  • Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings. However, personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum, or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.
  • The using firearms for target-shooting or other purposes by anyone not engaged in lawful hunting.
  • Welding and operating chainsaws, including the use of an acetylene torch or other open flame.
  • Operating a vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted within designated areas, including developed campgrounds and trailheads; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.

People who engage in these activities will be ticketed, because WDFW officers is taking a zero-tolerance approach.

In addition to overnight closures and the existing closures, smaller area-specific road or other closures may also be implemented as well.

More information about the wildlife areas can be found here.

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