WILDFIRES -- Hunters were frustrated over the Labor Day weekend as access was closed to many of their favorite grouse and archery hunting areas because of wildfire activity or fire danger.
While many restrictions still apply to the region's private timberlands and portions of the Okanogan-Wenatchee, Colville, Kootenai, Clearwater-Nez Perce and Idaho Panhandle National Forests, some areas are opening up.
- Portions of the Umatilla National Forest have been reopened, including the popular Panjab and Ladybug campgrounds. However, the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness remains closed.
- The Chelan Ranger District has reopen the Pacific Crest Trail in the South Fork of Agnes Creek and some areas along Lake Chelan after substantial rain drenched the area.
- The Wenatchee River District is easing restrictions north of Highway 2 from Stevens Pass to Wenatchee. The White River, Little Wenatchee and MOST areas of the forest north of Highway 2 will be available for recreation. There is still a ban on all campfires everywhere on the forest.
- Kaniksu Complex fire managers have reopened Bead Lake Road and Bead Lake Trail as well as the Baldy Mountain area northwest of Ione. In addition the Bearpaw Road, also known as Forest Road #305, is open from its junction with Highway 57 to its junction with Forest Road #318.
- Lake Roosevelt has reopened most of its campgrounds and access sites except for a few in the northern district.
- Highway 50 over Gold Pass between St. Regis, Mont. to the St. Joe River has re-opened.
- Montana has reopened fishing access sites on the Clark Fork River in Alberton Gorge.
- Washington has eased drought-related fishing restrictions on numerous streams in the west half of the state.
Shorts Bar Recreations Site on the Salmon River near Riggins, Idaho, has been reopened by the BLM and designated the primary "take out" for all rafters, private and commercial, until Tepee Springs Fire activity diminishes at Carey and Vinegar Creek – usual take out sites along the Salmon. Shorts Bar is just east of Riggins, 20 miles downriver from Vinegar Creek.
Campfires will be permitted in established fire rings in official campgrounds on western Washington lands protected by the state Department of Natural Resources starting Saturday, easing a restriction enacted on June 22. The campfire ban on Washington state lands east of the Cascades remains in effect.
Fire managers urge the public to stay out of the way of firefighters in active fire areas. An emergency Forest closure remains in effect for the area around the Scotchman Peak Fire. "There has been a large amount of recreation traffic below the fire front and the public is urged to stay out of this area," fire managers announced in a release on Thursday.
The best advice is to monitor websites for fire incident updates and fish and game updates related to areas you are interested in visiting for hunting, hiking and other outdoor recreation.
Some helpful sites other than the links to national forests above:
- For fire mapping updates, see the Wildfire Activity Web Map.
- See links to updates on all Washington fires here.
- See links to updates on all Idaho fires here.
- See links to updates on all Montana fires here.