WENATCHEE – The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest has started reopening trailheads and day-use areas on a phased basis.
Reopening began May 22. Forest officials noted that some trailheads and day-use areas that are still snow covered will open later.
“The Forest Service is making every effort to expand access within the context of (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, and state and local government orders for residents,” said Forest Supervisor Kristin Bail.
Though the majority of trailheads and day use facilities began opening May 22, there may be some special cases and isolated recreation facilities and areas that will remain closed.
“Heavily visited day use sites, such as Boulder Cave, and day use sites that are located within campgrounds with no separate access will remain closed until the campground opens,” Bail said.
Access to amenities such as restrooms, garbage service and water facilities will be limited. Visitors will need to bring water, know how to properly dispose of human and dog waste, and pack out all garbage, said forest officials.
Campgrounds will remain closed during this first phase so forest staff and concessionaires can prepare them for operation.
“Due to COVID-19, many operational tasks we normally do in April had to be delayed, requiring us to get these tasks completed later than we normally do with a limited work force,” said Public Services Staff Officer Bryan Mulligan . “Water systems need to be turned on and tested, hazard trees need to be taken care of, outhouses need to be cleaned and repaired, trees and limbs that fell over the winter need to be removed, and the myriad other necessary tasks that must occur before campgrounds can reopen.”
“The Okanogan-Wenatchee is eagerly looking forward to opening our campgrounds sometime in June, consistent with the governor’s Safe Start Washington plan,” Mulligan said. “Under this plan, campgrounds are described as opening during Phase 2.”
“Protecting the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, partners, recreation providers and the public is always our No. 1 priority,” Bail said. “We want to make sure that personnel have the appropriate personal protective equipment so they can safely open and operate these facilities.
“Although there may be some temporary local closures, we continue to make every effort to provide access to these lands. We, too, look forward to when communities we serve can once again fully enjoy all the recreation opportunities available in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.”
Visitors should check local conditions and closures, and follow social distancing guidelines when in parking areas, trailheads and on trails.
More information is at www.fs.usda.gov/okawen.