The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) envisions a Washington where fish and wildlife thrive in healthy habitats, and where people experience and enjoy our state's natural gifts for generations to come. By actively managing lands, restoring habitats, and preserving wild places, the department serves as a steward and guardian for Washington's natural places and wildlife.
WDFW owns and manages about 1 million acres of land, including over 30 wildlife areas and over 500 water access areas. The primary purpose of department lands is the preservation, protection, perpetuation, and management of fish and wildlife and their habitats. Public use may include fishing, hunting, fish and wildlife appreciation, and other outdoor recreational opportunities when compatible with healthy and diverse fish and wildlife populations (WAC 220-500-010).
General rules for recreating on your WDFW lands, summarized below, are found in WAC Chapter 220-500, with definitions provided in RCW 77.08.010 and WAC 220-500-020. Each rule represents years of discussion and extensive public review.
Be advised: Emergency regulation changes may occur throughout the year that will supersede information contained on this page. Regarding game management units, be aware that state, local, or municipal firearms restrictions and hunting closures may apply.
Behavior and conduct: keg registration, banquet events, and posted signs or notices
Disorderly conduct will not be tolerated on department lands. Disorderly conduct includes:
- Using abusive language
- Intentionally disrupting any lawful assembly or meeting of persons without lawful authority
- Intentionally obstructing vehicles or pedestrian traffic without lawful authority
Users can hold, sponsor, or attend an event requiring a banquet permit from the liquor control board, but a permit from WDFW is required. Any possession of beer or malt liquor in quantities subject to keg registration laws under RCW 66.28.210 requires a permit from WDFW.
Department lands must be used in a manner or purpose consistent with posted signs or notices (WAC 220-500-030).
Except when allowed by department notice, campsites have a 21-day limit within a 30-day period. Residence camps are not allowed on department lands (WAC 220-500-100). Residence camps include:
- Presence that is a person's principal place of residence
Camping is allowed on department lands unless otherwise posted.
Dumping and sanitation
On any properties owned, leased, or controlled by the department, there is no draining or dumping refuse or human waste from any trailer, camper, automobile, other vehicle, or vessel.
Automobiles, vessels, or other vehicles can only be cleaned or washed with water or biodegradable soaps. This rule does not apply when cleaning to control or prevent the spread of invasive species, provided only water is used (WAC 220-500-120).
Erecting and using camps, blinds, and tree stand structures for hunting
All non-natural materials used to construct camps, blinds, or tree stand structures must be removed at the end of hunting season. Unattended, non-department owned blinds are available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
Digging pits to create waterfowl hunting blinds is not allowed. Cutting trees or attaching wire, staples, or nails to trees in an effort to build camps, blinds, or tree stands is also not allowed.
Any camp structures must be removed at the end of a trip (WAC 220-500-130).
Firearms and target practicing
There are several restrictions when using firearms on department lands:
- No firearm discharge where and when posted on department lands
- No discharging tracer or incendiary ammunition
- No discharging firearms within 500 feet of a department designated campground
Target debris must be removed from department lands, except for clay pigeons. The following items cannot be used as targets:
- Exploding items
The department may designate locations and times for target practice consistent with resource management or public safety concerns (WAC 220-500-140).
The discharge or possession of the following items is unlawful and prohibited (WAC 220-500-150):
- Model rockets
- Other devices containing any explosive or flammable compounds
These rules do not apply to items:
- Gasoline or diesel powered equipment
- Cooking stoves or grills
- Legal firearms
Noncommercial use or activity: groups
Public use of WDFW lands for fishing, hunting, fish and wildlife appreciation, and other outdoor recreational opportunities compatible with healthy and diverse fish and wildlife populations (not commercial) requires a permit for groups of more than 30 people (see WAC 220-500-010 and WAC 220-500-070).
Noncommerical groups do not need to pay a fee for this permit. All permits and rights of entry may be obtained from a WDFW lands agent in the appropriate region. You can also contact the nearest WDFW regional office for more information.
Vehicles cannot be left unattended for more than 21 consecutive days. Additionally, the mooring of a houseboat, dock, or other floating occupancy structure (except floating waterfowl hunting blinds) without a permit (WAC 220-500-160) is prohibited.
A Discover Pass, Vehicle Access Pass, or WDFW permit is required for motor vehicle access to department lands.
With the exception of licensed service animals for persons with disabilities, pets may be prohibited or regulated.
From April through July, all dogs and other pets must be leashed. It is unlawful to cause or allow a pet to roam unattended or unleashed on designated access sites or within 500 feet of a designated campground (WAC 220-500-170). Field trials for hunting dogs require a permit.
Public conduct on private lands under cooperative agreement with the department
Do not discharge firearms or archery equipment within a posted safety zone on department controlled lands. Violating this subsection is a misdemeanor, pursuant to RCW 77.15.230.
For the purposes of this section, "department controlled lands" means land, water, and access areas, such as boat ramps and trail heads, which are privately owned and under cooperative agreement with the department (WAC 220-500-230).
Removal of minerals, wood, and artifacts from department lands
Vehicles using department lands
Motor driven vehicles are not to be operated on roads controlled or managed by the department in a manner or for a purpose contrary to posted signs or notices. Exceptions to this rule can only be authorized by the Director pursuant to the department road management agreement.