Anglers and hunters headed for the Wooten Wildlife Area will be able to pursue spring fishing and hunting opportunities despite a temporary safety closure in place because of salvage logging operations, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Public access for the March 1 opening of the fishing season at Tucannon impoundments and the April 15 opening of the spring turkey and black bear hunting seasons will not be affected by the closure, which has been in place since January. The closure is necessary to ensure public safety during helicopter salvage-logging operations in the wildlife area, where last summer’s School wildfire burned thousands of acres.
The Tucannon River valley floor, seven man-made lakes along the river that open for fishing on March 1, and the two upper campgrounds remain accessible, said Shana Winegeart, assistant manager of the wildlife area for WDFW. State land along the main Tucannon Road that was not damaged in last summer’s wildfire, north of the Tumalum-Tucannon confluence, also remains open.
Vehicle traffic through the wildlife area is periodically delayed while helicopters are overhead.
Other campgrounds, hillsides and uplands in most of the 11,778-acre wildlife area remain closed during helicopter logging. The closure is scheduled to last through April 7, and is necessary to protect recreationists from hazardous situations during the logging operations.
The closure also will minimize disturbance to elk, and keep the animals on the wildlife area and off adjacent private lands where they can cause damage. About 14 miles of elk fence was lost in the fire and is still under re-construction.
Campgrounds and portions of the Wooten Wildlife Area will be opened as logging is completed around each site. Updated Wooten Wildlife Area access information will be posted regularly on WDFW’s website, on the area headquarters phone message system (509-843-1530) and at an on-site kiosk.