OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Thursday announced the emergency closure of the Wenas Green Dot Road Management and part of the Oak Creek Green Dot Road Management areas in Yakima and Kittitas counties.
The closure takes effect immediately and will remain in effect until further notice. A map of the closed area can be viewed here.
The land closure was prompted by the Evans Canyon Fire burning in the area. The fire is now estimated at roughly 52,000 acres with wind and dry fuels on the ground creating a hazard for firefighters, residents, and visitors in the area. Most notably, wind events in the area have caused the fire to burn in unpredictable directions.
“Our goal is to ensure firefighters, who are trying their best to protect the communities, habitats, and natural resources impacted by the fire, are not put in a position to have to rescue a camper, hiker or hunter,” said Todd Welker, manager, DNR Southeast Region. “This wildfire is both fast-moving and unpredictable, and is already putting families in the area at risk. We know this is an inconvenience for residents heading out for the long weekend, but we simply have to play it safe.”
Parts of North Wenas Road, Sheep Company Road and Naches Wenas Road are closed. Highway 821 (Yakima Canyon Highway), BBQ Flats and Wenas recreation areas are closed. The Yakima River Canyon is closed, including boat launches and campgrounds.
“We know this closure will change plans for folks heading out over Labor Day weekend to enjoy the great recreation opportunities it provides,” said Mike Livingston, WDFW Region 3 Director. “The Evans Canyon Fire spread has been explosive for several days and the agencies are concerned about the public unknowingly being put in harm’s way. Our thoughts will continue to be with the families currently impacted by evacuations and at risk of losing their homes, and our brave firefighters and pilots working day and night to put this fire out.”
Welker and Livingston stressed that firefighting and law enforcement resources are stretched thin with wildfires cropping up across the dry landscapes. They added that the coming week is poised to be one of the most wildfire-prone weeks of the year with hot, dry conditions, coupled with wind events, expected across the state.
The agencies will announce the reopening of the recreation lands when it is safe for the public to enter.