YAKIMA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has temporarily closed one road in a portion of the Wenas Wildlife Area scorched by last summer’s wildfire, and plans to close a second road next week to install a new bridge.
About three miles of the Hessler Flats/Kelley Hollow loop road were closed to motorized vehicles this week to protect the soils from erosion and allow vegetation to re-seed, said Cindi Confer Morris, manager of WDFW’s 115,000- acre wildlife area southwest of Ellensburg.
The closure, which starts at a locked elk fence gate, will extend through the winter, she said. A new walk-through gate has been installed for people on foot or on horseback.
“Increased off-road vehicle use in the open area – coupled with recent rain – is tearing up the exposed soil and slowing restoration,” Confer Morris said.
Most of the vegetation on a 1,170-acre portion of the wildlife area burned in the Wenas Lake fire over Labor Day weekend, she said.
In a separate action, Durr Road will be closed to motor vehicles Nov. 12-18, while WDFW installs a new bridge across Umtanum Creek.
“This crossing is currently a ford through the creek,” Confer Morris said. “We have a threatened steelhead run in Umtanum Creek and we need the bridge to protect the fish.”
Signs have been posted alerting travelers to both of the temporary closures.
For more information about the Wenas Wildlife Area, which stretches through Kittitas and Yakima counties, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/wenas/ .