Photo by Scott Fitkin

Photo by Scott Fitkin

The lakes, wetlands, meadows and shrub-steppe around Loomis, in northern Okanogan County, were deemed of such importance to mule deer that Washington state created its first wildlife area there 75 years ago. Today the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area contains 14,314 acres in a deep glaciated valley, plus another 8,500 acres in two other units.

To celebrate the anniversary and the beginning of the state’s program of wildlife areas, which now number 33, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is planning a summer-long series of events, both educational and recreational, in the Sinlahekin.

The Sinlahekin boasts more than 500 plant species (including nine rare ones), as well as diverse wildlife species—more than 200 types of birds, 60 kinds of mammals, 20 different reptiles and amphibians, 25 kinds of fish, and at least 90 types of butterflies.

There are trails for hikers and horseback riders, as well as several accessible trails, and numerous lakes and streams.

The summer-long celebration starts Saturday (June 7) at 11 a.m. at the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area headquarters with presentations, dedication of a new hiking trail, fishing clinics at area lakes, and a barbecue lunch.

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Event schedule

• June 7: kickoff celebration, dedication of a new hiking trail, fishing clinics, remarks by WDFW director, and a barbecue lunch.

• June 14 – 15: native bees, birds, bears, deer, mollusks, wildflowers and other plants, geology, and early exploration.

• July 5 – 6: butterflies, dragonflies and other insects; bats; grassland ecology; and area history.

• July 26 – 27: bats, bighorn sheep and cougars, wildfire history, and a photo tour.

• Aug. 23 – 24: geology, climate change, snakes, and fire management.

• Sept. 6 – 7: birds, wildlife photography, history of Native Americans and early settlers, and family sing-along.

• Sept. 27: final ceremony, with a fun run and a celebration of hunting and fishing in the area.

Events with limits on the number of participants will be held on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information and a detailed schedule, visit wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/sinlahekin/75thanniversary.php. For more information about participating in the events, contact (509) 223-3358 or teamsinlahekin@dfw.wa.gov.