DNR’s Hilary Franz termed it “not an easy decision.”
“But, I cannot ignore the unfortunate reality of what we saw this weekend: crowded trails, people shoulder to shoulder, and large gatherings. This behavior undercuts the sacrifices that Washingtonians of all means and ability are making in order to adhere to social distancing. And it undercuts the heroic efforts of our doctors, nurses, and first responders who risk their lives each day responding to this unrelenting epidemic,” she said in a press release.
At least 123 residents have died from coronavirus and there are another 2,469 confirmed cases, according to Washington health officials. The state’s goal is to flatten the curve of infection as much as possible as quickly as possible.
DNR’s order lasts at least through April 8.
It applies to “trailheads, trails, roads, free flight launch sites, campgrounds, water access sites, day-use areas, and dispersed recreation (camping, off-trail hiking, hunting, target shooting, etc.).” It does not impact logging or farming on leased lands, DNR said.
Most state forests are located in the foothills of the western and east-central Cascades, the Black Hills, rim of the Olympics, western Okanogan Valley and scattered parcels in Northeast Washington.
Those and WDFW wildlife areas are prime places to hunt for spring turkey. WDFW continues to say that at this time hunting and fishing seasons are still open.
DNR says enforcement staff will be patrolling its lands.
“Ultimately, we are counting on people to do the right thing and comply … If you are found on state land, our staff will provide information about the closure and ask you to leave. Citations can be issued to individuals who refuse to leave,” DNR said in an FAQ.
WDFW’s and State Park’s closures run through at least April 7.