DNR imposes burn ban on eastern Washington lands

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has imposed a burn ban on DNR-protected lands east of the Cascades. The ban, which went into effect on Tuesday (July 1), is based on weather and fuel conditions and is expected to last through Sept. 30.

The burn ban is currently limited to eastern Washington. It may eventually be extended to western Washington as conditions warrant, the DNR said. It applies to all forestlands under DNR fire protection, which does not include federally owned lands.

“The seasonally dry weather creates a greater risk for wildfires,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “A burn ban helps to prevent them, and protects forests, habitat and property.”

Already in 2014, DNR has had 172 wildfire starts, which have burned approximately 779 acres throughout the state, the agency said in a press release.

The ban applies to all outdoor burning on DNR-protected forestlands east of the Cascades with two exceptions. Recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds, and gas or propane stoves and barbeque grills are allowed. Fireworks and incendiary devices, such as exploding targets, skylanterns or tracer ammunition, are illegal on all DNR-protected forestlands. Charcoal briquettes are also not allowed.

Shoreline restrictions near Wanapum Dam extended

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has extended the closure of four water access sites along the Columbia River behind Wanapum Dam through Oct. 31, while work continues to repair a fractured spillway, the agency said in a press release.

WDFW officials closed the sites and access to the beach in March, after the Grant County Public Utility District drew Wanapum Reservoir down to record levels to relieve pressure on the dam.

Jim Brown, WDFW regional director for North Central Washington, said the extended closure is necessary to protect public safety, fish habitat, and archeological and cultural resources. The closures affect the Yo Yo, Old Vantage Highway, Sunland Estates and Frenchman Coulee water access sites.

The upland portions of the wildlife areas above the ordinary high-water level remain open to the public, Brown said. Grant County PUD has also closed 38 miles of shorelines it owns stretching from above Wanapum Dam to below Rock Island Dam. Washington State Parks also has closed Wanapum State Park near Vantage.