YAKIMA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will conduct a public meeting in Ellensburg Jan. 7 to discuss preliminary results of Colockum elk research, winter road closures and development of a joint recreation plan on public lands between Ellensburg and Wenatchee.
The meeting will start at 6 p.m. in rooms 137 A & B of the Student Union & Recreation Center in the center of the Central Washington University campus at 400 E. University Way. Parking on campus is free.
For the past four years, WDFW has closed about 44,000 acres of the Whiskey Dick and Quilomene wildlife areas to motor vehicles from February through April to protect wintering elk from disturbances. The May 1 re-opening date for the wildlife areas is consistent with those on the Oak Creek, Wenas and L.T. Murray wildlife areas.
Shana Winegeart, manager of the Quilomene, Whiskey Dick and L.T. Murray wildlife areas, said recreational use of the area in late winter and early spring may sometimes prompt elk to move to private lands.
"When they do that, they can wind up in adjacent private agricultural areas, where they compete with cattle for forage and damage crops and stock fences," she said.
Since 2008, WDFW has equipped 109 elk with Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and recorded more than 400,000 elk locations. The last collars were collected in May 2012 and much of the data have been analyzed.
Ted Clausing, WDFW south-central regional wildlife program manager will also discuss the "Naneum Ridge to Columbia River Recreation Plan," currently being developed by WDFW in conjunction with the state Department of Natural Resources and a 16-member citizen stakeholder group. A draft of that plan, designed to guide recreation development in the area, is expected to be available for public review in mid-2013.
An online survey designed to support development of the recreation plan is available through Jan. 4 at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5FLNP6R.