OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is extending the closure of all of the lands it manages east of the Cascades to recreation due to high fire danger through Thursday, September 17. DNR staff will evaluate the possibility of extending the closure, originally enacted Tuesday, as the next week progresses.

Critical wildfire danger and ongoing fires in the area warranted the extension of the closure, as Labor Day saw a rash of new fires ignite all around the state, with one destroying the town of Malden, and another leading to the death of a 1-year-old.

“Closing recreation to the public is a difficult decision, and one we do not take lightly, but the risk to public safety and our firefighters is too great to take chances with,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who oversees DNR. “Hundreds of thousands of acres of land have burned since Monday, and our resources are fully deployed. But we cannot risk having more human-caused fires right now.

“I know how important hunting season is to so many Washingtonians, but we are in the middle of a historic wildfire event.”

The below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures for DNR’s Northeast and Southeast regions is forecast to continue, with the hot and dry weather further extending the risk of large wildfires east of the Cascades.

With no lighting this week or in the forecast for the next few days, the overwhelming majority of wildfires DNR is responding to are presumed to be human-caused. The agency has responded to more than 100 fires caused by recreation already this year.

DNR will announce the reopening of its public lands to recreation when it again becomes safe to do so.

The statewide moratorium on timber harvest activities on DNR-managed lands is expected to lift by Friday.

Hunters with concerns about their tags should contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. For a map of DNR-managed lands, click HERE.