Starting Friday, the state Department of Natural Resources will temporarily close all recreational and public access to DNR-managed lands east of the Cascade Mountains, citing extreme fire danger and the ongoing drought.
The closure applies to state lands, conservation areas, community forests and any associated roads, trails, campgrounds and recreational facilities.
“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,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.
According to Franz, firefighters are already stretched thin across the state and the number of fire ignitions is approximately double the 10-year average. Fire danger in all of Eastern Washington is either at very high or extreme levels, according to DNR.
Popular attractions in the region that will close include Loomis, Ahtanum and Teanaway state forests, according to DNR spokesperson Ryan Rodruck.
Not all recreational and public access lands east of the Cascade Mountains are managed by DNR. Visitors should also check with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington State Parks for closures.
Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in early July in response to the growing risk of wildfires and has banned most outdoor and agricultural burning until the end of September.
Umatilla National Forest and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have also closed public access lands in Eastern Washington.
A full list of campgrounds and natural areas can be found at www.dnr.wa.gov/open.