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 © Joh Marshall, Jolly Mountain fire, 2017.