YAKIMA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has expanded access to areas of the Ahtanum State Forest after temporary closures for repair and restoration work.

Several access points to the forest had been closed recently to allow for staff to begin repair work to facilities damaged by vandalism during the closure of state lands due to COVID-19.

“Our recreation team has made substantial progress in addressing issues with damage to infrastructure and resource protection. We are determined to safeguard the health and safety of the public and our natural resources while encouraging responsible recreation,” said Todd Welker, region manager for the DNR’s Southeast Region. “We thank the public for their patience as we did the repairs and assessments of conditions to open up more recreation opportunities in the forest.”

DNR lands were temporarily closed on March 26 to support the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. During the closure damage and vandalism occurred to some infrastructure, particularly in the Ahtanum State Forest. Damage to restroom facilities, gates and roads is currently being repaired. All state lands began to reopen on a limited basis on May 5.

Currently, all regular Green Dot roads in the Ahtanum State Forest are open to travel. Recreation may still be difficult in areas with remaining snow and caution is advised especially while traveling in wet, muddy or snowy conditions. Travel around Darland Mountain is not advised due to significant snow levels.

Camping on all DNR land remains closed under the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Campgrounds in the Ahtanum State Forest are indicated as closed either with signage or temporary barriers. Some toilet facilities are currently open, however sanitation may not be available. The public is encouraged to bring personal sanitation supplies, including toilet paper and hand sanitizer and practice Leave No Trace principles.

Recreation status of DNR lands, including roads and recreation sites, can be found at http://dnr.wa.gov/open.