UPDATE SEPT 16: With the return of precipitation and cooler temperatures, TNC lands in Eastern Washington are now reopened for normal recreation and public access—just in time for hunting season. These lands initially closed on July 23 due to extreme fire danger. This summer, Washington faced a historic drought and record-breaking heat, and Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency. The closure included Central Cascades Forest lands on both sides of I-90 around Cle Elum and stretching south to Highway 12, the Moses Coulee/McCartney Creek, Beezley Hills preserves and other preserve lands scattered through Eastern Washington.
Visitors to Cle Elum Ridge should also be aware that specific trails and public access areas may be temporarily closed throughout the fall and winter due to forest health treatments. These treatments include prescribed burning and mechanical thinning. The Cascadia Prescribed Fire Training Exchange will be hosting the prescribed burns and more information can be found on washingtonnature.org next week. Closures will include the Rat Pac mountain bike trail, which will be closed on weekdays. For up-to-date information on these closures, please reference trail signage. For advanced planning you can contact Katie Pofahl, Eastern Washington Community Relations Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ORIGINAL POST JULY 21: Due to extreme fire danger and ongoing drought, The Nature Conservancy is temporarily closing all recreational and public access to lands it manages in Eastern Washington, effective July 23. This includes Central Cascades Forest lands on both sides of I-90 around Cle Elum and stretching south to Highway 12, the Moses Coulee/McCartney Creek, Beezley Hills complex of preserves, and other preserve lands scattered through Eastern Washington.
The Conservancy is following the lead of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources in closing these lands. Washington is facing a historic drought and record-breaking heat, and Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency. The Red Apple Fire alone has burned more than 12,000 acres. Across our state, more than 900 fires have burned more than 140,000 acres, Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz noted in announcing the DNR closure.
In addition to DNR, Umatilla National Forest and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have also closed their lands in eastern Washington to public access. Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed its wildlife areas to overnight use and is allowing day use only.
Banner photo © Caleb and Ariana Babcock