Washington DNR closing public lands to hiking, fishing, hunting

Washington landscape
Courtesy: DNR

Add Ahtanum State Forest and Teanaway Community Forest to the list of places you can’t go due to COVID-19.

If you decide to get some fresh air and go for a hike in one those forests, in Yakima County and Kittitas County, respectively, you’ll be asked to leave.

The state Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday the closure of all DNR-managed lands to the public.

RELATED: Washington, Oregon campgrounds closed to reduce COVID-19 spread

“Enforcement staff will tell you about the policy and ask you to leave out of an abundance of concern for public safety and the safety of DNR employees,” said Ryan Rodruck, communications manager for DNR in eastern Washington.

All public lands managed by the DNR — nearly 6 million acres — will be closed to the public through at least April 8 in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“This was not an easy decision. We treasure our forests and trails and beaches as places of rejuvenation and refuge from the chaos of daily life,” Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who leads DNR, said in a statement.

The closure applies to all DNR-managed lands, which include trailheads, trails, roads, free flight launch sites, campgrounds, water access sites, day-use areas, and dispersed recreation (camping, off-trail hiking, hunting, target shooting, etc.).

The closure begins Thursday; enforcement staff will be patrolling.

RELATED: Washington Parks and Rec closes all state parks, wildlife areas

The closure does not apply to essential business functions of DNR on state lands. Timber harvests and agriculture lands in central southeast Washington — mostly dryland wheat, some apple orchards and grazing — remain in production.

If you are a farmer and need to make a lease payment, visit dnr.wa.gov.

If you are a parent looking for fun, outdoor-related things to do with the kids, the Junior Ranger program offers fun, at-home activities.

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