Extreme Fire Danger Forces Managers To Close Public Lands In WA, OR

Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz speaking at a podium.
Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz announced the closure of all DNR-managed lands east of the Cascades. She visited the Red Apple fire near Wenatchee, which has now been more than 80% contained. PHOTO: Courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

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 Extremely hot and dry conditions have caused some land managers to close more recreation areas than normal. That means no hiking, no camping and no public access until the extreme fire danger lifts. 

The brittle dry land and tightly stretched firefighting resources has led to larger closures than normal. 

Three separate fires are burning through timber in the Umatilla National Forest, which spans Washington and Oregon.

Spokesperson Darcy Wessemen says officials closed the entire forest in a rare move to protect firefighters and the public.

Wessemen: “In the history of the Umatilla National Forest, we’re not aware that there has been a closure of this magnitude before. That just speaks to the unprecedented conditions that we’re experiencing.”

In another unprecedented move, Washington’s Natural Resource Department is closing all of the land it manages east of the Cascades. 

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation recently closed its land to the general public and industrial activities. Multiple fires are burning through the reservation.

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Firefighters watch and take video with their cellphones as a plane drops fire retardant on Harlow Ridge above the Lick Creek Fire, southwest of Asotin, Wash., on July 12, 2021. The fire, which started last Wednesday, has burned over 50,000 acres of land between Asotin County and Garfield County in southeast Washington. CREDIT: Pete Caster/Lewiston Tribune via AP

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