DNR shuts down E WA lands

By on Wednesday, July 21st, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

OLYMPIA — Due to the extreme fire danger and ongoing drought east of the Cascade, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is temporarily closing recreation and public access to DNR-managed lands in Eastern Washington.

The closure, which begins Friday applies to DNR-managed state lands, conservation areas, community forests and any associated roads, trails, campgrounds, recreational sites or recreational facilities.

“This summer is smashing all our records and leaving the state bone dry, leaving Eastern Washington to face an ongoing, tremendous risk of wildfire,” Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who oversees DNR, said. “Over the past year and a half, we have been reminded just how important our public lands are, so closing them is not a decision we take lightly. But with the drought leaving the region as dry as ever we must do all that we can to prevent human-caused fires.

The decision to close recreation and all public access on DNR-managed lands east of the Cascades is in addition to the burn ban that Franz enacted earlier this month on the 13 million acres of forestlands under DNR fire protection. The burn ban will remain in effect through at least September 30. Campfires also remain banned on DNR-managed lands statewide due to ongoing fire danger.

“Our firefighters are already stretched thin fighting major fires across our state. We must take reasonable steps – and make sacrifices – in order to protect them and our communities,” Franz said.

DNR staff will continually monitor conditions, and a reopening date for recreation access will be determined once those factors improve. The Umatilla National Forest and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation joins DNR in closing lands in eastern Washington to public access.