Fire closes portion of Wenas Wildlife Area; annual target shooti - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fire closes portion of Wenas Wildlife Area; annual target shooting restrictions take effect

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YAKIMA, WA – A wildfire that started June 2 in Yakima County has prompted the temporary closure of about 4,000 acres of the Wenas Wildlife Area near Selah to protect firefighters and help ensure public safety.

Ross Huffman, regional lands manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said access from Buffalo Road and Lower Buffalo Road will be blocked until approximately June 30, while firefighters from the Washington Department of Natural Resources mop up the blaze and guard against flare-ups.

He said the closure will prevent access to the southern trailhead of the popular Skyline Trail on Lower Buffalo Road, as well as about 3 miles of the trail itself.

The closure area is bordered by the Yakima River on the east and by elk fencing on the west and south. The northern boundary extends roughly due west from Roza Dam. A map of the area is online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/wenas/buffalo_fire_closure_2018.pdf.

Wildlife area Manager Cindi Confer Morris said the cause of the fire, which burned about 1,800 acres, is under investigation.

She also said WDFW’s annual target shooting restrictions took effect this week and will remain in place through September – across the entire 105,000-acre wildlife area – to reduce the potential for wildfire during warm and dry weather. Target shooting is permitted only from sunrise to 10 a.m. each day, when temperatures are cooler and humidity higher.

Confer Morris said target shooting has caused numerous wildfires in the area, damaging wildlife habitat and neighboring private land, and creating public safety concerns.

Huffman said WDFW began seasonal shooting restrictions in 2012, with the support of the community-based Wenas Wildlife Area Advisory Committee.

“Thanks to the work of our advisors and the cooperation of local community residents, there hasn’t been a target shooting-caused fire during the restricted period since 2014,” he said.

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