THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is looking for public input on a proposed annual closure for select areas of the Methow Wildlife Area. Designed to advance mule deer conservation at the Methow Wildlife Area, the closure includes 23,306 acres across five wildlife area units and would be in effect from Dec. 15 to April 15 annually.
The closure will support data collection on mule deer winter use and movement in a piloted approach intended to inform long-term stewardship at the wildlife area.
WDFW will host a public workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Winthrop Barn Auditorium (51 State Route 20, Winthrop). All are invited to attend to learn more and share feedback on the proposed closure.
The Methow Valley is home to the largest migratory mule deer herd in Washington, and many of those deer overwinter on the Methow Wildlife Area. Much of the land in the wildlife area was purchased to protect migratory corridors and mule deer winter range. Protecting these areas also benefits songbirds, mammals, salmon, and other wildlife.
With the increasing impacts of climate change, including higher intensity wildfire, mule deer winter range has been decreasing while the demand for outdoor recreation has been increasing.
“We’re seeing less quality habitat available for wildlife and more human disturbance during those critical winter and early spring months, when food is scarce,” said Brandon Troyer, Methow Wildlife Area Manager. “This proposed closure is intended to reduce that disturbance. We know how important the Methow Wildlife Area is for visitors, and it’s important to us that we work with the public as we consider this closure.”
Following the Sept. 13 workshop, WDFW will review public feedback and consider the proposed closure ahead of this winter season. WDFW is also engaging the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and members of the Methow Wildlife Area Advisory Committee in the consideration of the proposed closure. The Department will announce additional details as they become available.
The Methow Wildlife Area spans approximately 34,600 acres of WDFW-managed land separated into seven units. The area consists of diverse habitats, including shrubsteppe, grasslands, and dry coniferous Ponderosa pine forests. The area offers unique recreation experiences for visitors, from hunting to cross-country skiing, and wildlife viewing to horseback riding.
The Department is currently developing a new management plan to guide stewardship of the Methow Wildlife Area and piloting a new approach to managing recreation as outlined in their 10-year Recreation Strategy for WDFW-managed Lands. The management plan will have a separate later comment period.
All members of the public are invited to share their perspective and participate in WDFW public feedback opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, language proficiency, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, veteran status, or basis of disability.
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.