Winter closures to protect elk on Wenas, Oak Creek, and LT Murray wildlife areas start this month

News release

Media contact: Eryn Couch, 360-890-6604 

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today its annual winter closures for sections of the Wenas, Oak Creek, and L.T. Murray wildlife areas. 

Due to early winter conditions, the annual winter closure in the Wenas Wildlife Area will take effect early on Friday, Dec. 9. The annual winter closure for the Oak Creek and L.T. Murray wildlife areas will follow on Thursday, Dec. 15. The closure areas will open to the public again on May 1, 2023. Reference a map of the closure locations for more information. 

During winter and spring, elk are concentrated in large numbers near winter feed sites and on their winter range. Human disturbance can cause unnecessary stress on elk during their winter recovery period, which can result in increased damage to neighboring agricultural areas and costly repairs to elk fencing. Trespassers caught within a closed area may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

“We appreciate outdoor recreationists continuing to abide by these winter closures to help increase protections for elk,” said Ross Huffman, WDFW South Central Region Wildlife program manager. 

Additional closure information is available below.  

Wenas Wildlife Area
Areas surrounding the Mellotte feed site will be closed to all public entry as shown on Green Dot maps. Gates at Hardy Canyon, Newlands Road, and Woodcamp Ridge Road at the top of Cleman Mountain will be locked on Dec. 9. The area will be closed to all public entry. This feeding area is not open to the public for viewing.

Oak Creek Wildlife Area 
Headquarters Unit: The Cleman Mountain/Sanford Pasture area and Oak Creek Road (USFS 1400) will be closed to motorized vehicles but remain open to walk-in access. Large portions of upland range will be closed to all public entry as shown on Green Dot maps.

Cowiche Unit: The unit is closed to public entry south of Cowiche Mill Road as shown on Green Dot maps.

L.T. Murray Wildlife Area 
L.T. Murray Unit: Areas surrounding the Joe Watt and Robinson feed sites will be closed to all public entry as shown on Green Dot maps.

Whiskey Dick Unit: A motorized vehicle closure will be in effect from Feb. 1 through May 1, 2023 that extends from the Vantage Highway north up to the Quilomene Ridge Road as shown on Green Dot maps

Reference the Green Dot maps for the location of these seasonal closure. People can download their own maps to print or use on a smartphone.

WDFW manages more than a million acres of land and hundreds of water access areas throughout the state. By actively managing lands, restoring habitats, and preserving wild places, the Department serves as stewards for Washington’s natural places, protecting the state’s land and water for its human and wildlife populations.

Individuals who need to receive this information in an alternative format, language, or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact the Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator by phone at 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or email (Title6@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.

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