The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
the Times 

Day use at W. T. Wooten Wildlife Area begins on May 5

Fish stocked in Spring, Blue, Rainbow and Deer Lake.


DAYTON—Kari Dingman, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife assistant manager for the Wooten Wildlife Area said all State Lands will be reopened to the public for Day Use, only, on May 5.

“Locally that will mean the Wooten Wildlife Area will be open for fishing in the lakes and for Day Use activities,” she said.

She said the access roads to Spring, Blue, Rainbow, and Deer Lake, were not damaged by the February flood and the lakes have been stocked with fish.

However, repairs have not been completed on Tucannon Road and the road will be closed at the turn-off to the Tucannon Hatchery.

Dingman is hoping people will behave responsibly with regard to social distancing while enjoying recreation in the Wooten Wildlife Area.

She is concerned about the rising number of cases of COVID-19 in the Tri Cities. Tri-Citians are 80 percent of all the recreationists in the Wooten Wildlife Area, she said.

“The weekend prior to the State Lands being shut down, the campgrounds were completely full with people camping in large groups and on top of each other, and they were crowding around the lakes shoulder to shoulder to fish,” Dingman said. “There was little or no social distancing occurring anywhere on the Tucannon that weekend.”

“If people choose not to obey the social distancing guidelines, especially on the Tucannon, there is a good chance the area will be shut back down to the public,” she said.

“People will be allowed to fish, hike, pick mushrooms, look for shed antlers, birdwatch, or any outdoor activity they can do, during the day,” she said.

Dingman said no camping will be allowed at any of the State parks, yet.

“I have not heard anything about the U.S. Forest Service reopening their designated campgrounds, but their lands are still open for recreating and dispersed camping,” she said.

Dispersed camping is where people can basically pull off the road, anywhere they want, and set up camp. Dispersed campsites do not have outhouses, picnic tables, or fire rings in them and people do not have to pay to use them. Dispersed camping is never allowed in the Wooten Wildlife Area, she said.

Dingman is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Wooten Wildlife Area. She had been directed to telework from home since the end of March and returned to the Wooten Wildlife Area on May 4 and May 5, to reopen the road and lakes for the public to access the area

Visitors, anglers, and hunters should only venture out well-prepared. Expect limited access to restrooms as staff reopen facilities at wildlife areas and water access sites. WDFW is also recommending that people bring their own hand washing supplies, toilet paper, and a face mask, and be prepared to change plans if sites appear congested.


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