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May 02, 2017
Contact: Greg Mackey, 509-653-2390

Climbing area on Oak Creek Wildlife Area in Yakima County
closed after basalt column collapses

YAKIMA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) closed the Royal Columns climbing area on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area in Yakima County after a basalt column collapsed April 28.

Greg Mackey, WDFW Oak Creek Wildlife Area manager, said the month-long closure of the popular climbing area went into effect April 28 to protect public safety and to assess long-term use of the site.

Closed are all lands within 150 feet of the cliffs known as the Royal Columns climbing area, and the access trail directly across the Tieton River from the Oak Creek Wildlife Area headquarters off Highway 12, northwest of Yakima. The closure includes about 3.5 acres and about 1,000 feet of access trail.

Mackey explained that at 6:50 a.m. on Friday, April 28, a large basalt column detached from the Royal Columns cliffs and plummeted to the valley floor. Signs about the closure are posted throughout the wildlife area and its parking lots.

Mackey said other popular climbing sites on the wildlife area remain open, including Bend and Moon Rocks. The Tieton River Nature Trail also remains open.