DNR closes Eastern Washington lands for wildfire season
WENATCHEE, Wash. — While visiting the site of the Red Apple Fire, Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, formally announced the closure of all DNR lands in Eastern Washington (east of the Cascades) starting on Friday during a powerful wildfire season that has spread firefighting resources thin already.
According to the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the closure will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 23. The closure impacts all DNR-managed state lands, which includes conservation areas, community forests, roads, trails, campgrounds, and recreational facilities across the region.
“This summer is smashing all our records and leaving the state bone dry, leaving eastern Washington to face an ongoing, tremendous risk of wildfire,” Franz 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.
“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.”
A wide variety of weather-related conditions led the DNR to make this decision. Record-shattering temperatures across Eastern Washington hit as the state enters a drought state of emergency. Fire ignitions in Washington state are double the 10-year average with months of fire season remaining in front of us.
Eastern Washington fire danger varies between very high or extreme levels, meaning that the entire region is at risk of serious fire danger. With that being the case, this closure will be indefinite as DNR officials monitor heat, fire, and weather conditions to determine a re-opening date.
This isn’t the only entity protecting nature in Eastern Washington. The Umatilla National Forest has been shut down to the public and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation closed lands amid high fire danger as well.
RECENT WILDFIRE HEADLINES FROM THE KAPP-KVEW NEWS STAFF:
- Wildfire Season — A Guide to Evacuation Levels and Important Terminology
- MONDAY: Firefighters work quickly to control wildfire in Benton County
- MONDAY: Green Ridge Fire burns more than 1,500 acres, 15% contained
- JULY 16: Lick Creek, Elbow Creek, Green Ridge Fires span 75,000 acres
- JULY 16: Yakima Canyon brush fire contained to five acres, S.R. 821 set to re-open in afternoon
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