Washington Public Lands Are Still Closed. So Please Stop Going Around Closure Signs, Officials Ask

State-managed parks, forest, natural areas and other access points like boat launches are closed until at least May 5 to comply with Gov. Jay Inslee's continued "stay home, stay healthy" order. CREDIT: Washington DNR
State-managed parks, forest, natural areas and other access points like boat launches are closed until at least May 5 to comply with Gov. Jay Inslee's continued "stay home, stay healthy" order. CREDIT: Washington DNR

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Some rules aren’t meant to be broken. Rules like Washington’s public lands closures. Enforcement officers are seeing people hike in closed areas, which could eventually land you a citation.

After public lands closed last week, some people are still heading onto Department of Natural Resource lands throughout Washington. Enforcement officers have still noted crowded parking lots places such as at the Ahtanam State Forest in Yakima County, said DNR spokesperson Ryan Rodruck.

“Our closure there is very clearly indicated. We had custom signs made up. There’s a barricade on the North Fork road. It was abundantly clear that the area was closed to recreation,” Rodruck said.

Among other areas, Rodruck said cars also packed the lot at the Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area east of Seattle near North Bend.

Right now, enforcement officers are still educating people about the closures – which are meant to protect people from hiking shoulder-to-shoulder on packed trails. The department (along with Fish and Wildlife and State Parks) closed public areas when people showed up in record numbers, hoping to break free from their homes for a few hours.

Rodruck said enforcement officers haven’t issued any tickets yet. Those would happen if people refused to leave. 

Citations would be $99 for failure to obey posted regulations. He said DNR enforcement officers don’t want to issue tickets – they’re mostly talking with people found in closed areas.

“I understand how frustrating it is to not have access at this point, but it has been done out of an abundance of caution for public safety to prevent the spread of this virus, and an abundance of safety for DNR employees as well, Rodruck said. “We just want people to be safe.”

The closure, which includes trailheads, roads and campgrounds, will last until May 5, following the recent extension of Gov. Inslee’s “stay home, stay healthly order. DNR-managed lands are still open for timber harvests and agricultural uses. Workers have been directed to comply with social distancing guidelines.

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