SPOKANE – In response to increased fire risk and nationally depleted firefighting resources, all eastern Washington wildlife areas, including water access areas within wildlife areas, managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) 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 announced over the weekend due to the proximity of the Cub Creek 2 Fire. Those closures include the Pearrygin Lake water access site, and the Rendezvous, Early Winters and Methow units of the Methow Wildlife Area.
Previously, WDFW closed several wildlife area units in southeast Washington for public safety due to the Lick Creek (Dry Gulch) Fire in Asotin County. Closed areas 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.
The overnight use and Methow and southeast Washington wildlife areas 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. Water access areas that are not part of a wildlife area will not be limited to day use only unless posted otherwise.
A reminder that an emergency order issued in early July is still in effect and being enforced on department lands east of the Cascades, which prohibits:
- Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings. Personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum, or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
- Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.
- The discharge of 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 motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted within designated parking areas, including developed campgrounds and trailheads; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.
Members of the public engaged in these high-risk activities will be ticketed as WDFW enforcement officers will be applying a zero-tolerance approach.
In addition to overnight closures and the existing closures in north central and south east Washington, smaller area-specific road or other closures may also be implemented as necessary. The public is asked to check wdfw.wa.gov/wildlifeareas for further details before departing to their intended destination.
WDFW officials also ask the public to abide by other land manager closures, such as those announced by the Department of Natural Resources, and follow voluntary additional prevention safety tips, such as avoiding roads where vegetation is visible growing in or near the road surface.
WDFW stewards over 700,000 acres of public land in Eastern Washington which are managed to protect lands and water for wildlife and people. WDFW works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.
Individuals who need to receive this information in an alternative format, language, or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact the Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator by phone at 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or email (Title6@dfw.wa.gov).