ASOTIN - New vehicle restrictions will start next month to protect habitat and public safety on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Chief Joseph Wildlife Area in southeast Washington's Asotin County.
Green Gulch Road, which runs from the wildlife area's headquarters buildings to Shovel Creek, has traditionally been closed to all motor vehicle traffic until October. It is currently in such poor shape that it is unsafe at any time for full-sized motor vehicle use.
"Attempted use of the road by full-sized vehicles is hazardous," explained area manager Bob Dice. Its proximity to riparian areas also raises the risk of destruction of adjacent fish and wildlife habitat by off-road travel, he said.
Green Gulch Road will only be open to motorized vehicles under 48 inches wide (mostly All-Terrain-Vehicles) from October 1 through November 30, depending on fire danger and weather conditions. No vehicles over 48 inches wide (standard cars and trucks) will be allowed on the road at any time.
When the smaller motor vehicles are allowed in October and November, they must be kept on the road and not beyond a posted parking area five miles in from the area's main road. No overnight parking or camping is allowed. Green Gulch Road is open year-round to foot and horseback travel.
Dice said that if hunters, fishers, hikers, and other users of the wildlife area fail to obey the new rules as posted on site, the road may have to be closed completely.