Outdoor recreational opportunities are dwindling in response to the coronavirus outbreak and Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay at home order.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife closed recreational fishing and shellfishing statewide Wednesday night to encourage residents to abide by the governor’s order.
“This is not a decision we take lightly, but it’s the right thing to do for the health and well-being of Washington’s families,” WDFW Director Kelly Susewind said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “Monday’s extraordinary order for the residents of our state to stay home requires all of us to work together to ensure these measures have the intended effect.”
Fishery managers have reported that some anglers have been seen crowding banks as concerns over coronavirus have continued, according to a news release.
In addition, many salmon and steelhead fisheries require regular monitoring under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which includes conducting angler interviews at access sites surrounding the state’s marine waters. The on-site, face-to-face nature of those interviews puts people at risk of transmitting or catching the coronavirus, but without such monitoring, these recreational fisheries must close to ensure ESA protections, according to the release.
The statewide closures began at midnight Wednesday and stay in place until at least 5 p.m. April 8. Two days before the closures lift, WDFW will evaluate if there’s any need to extend them, the release says.
WDFW enforcement officers remain on duty and will enforce these new closures.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife also announced that it will close recreational salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River, effective at 11:59 Thursday, March 26
Also on Wednesday PacifiCorp closed most of its recreation sites in Washington, Oregon and California, all of which have statewide stay at home directives.
The closures, which will stay in effect until May 1, include the popular series of day use areas, boat ramps and campgrounds along the Lewis River in southwest Washington, according to a news release. The utility had previously announced the camps would remain open.
A complete list of PacifiCorp closures is available online at www.pacificorp.com/community/recreation.
The Port of Longview’s Willow Grove Park remained opened Thursday, and port officials say they intend to keep the park open as long as people follow social distancing rules.
WDFW and other state agencies previously closed all of their water access sites, including boat launches, and other public lands where people may gather.
Mount Rainier National Park closed roads to public vehicles in response to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state and county public health service guidelines for social distancing. The closure went into effect Tuesday afternoon.
“This closure will prohibit all vehicles, including cars, buses, motorcycles and nonmotorized vehicles such as bicycles from entering the park. The park’s main gate near Ashford will also be closed,” according to a news release from the park. The governor’s stay- at-home order does not prohibit outdoor activity, but he did urge Washingtonians to follow safety precautions to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.
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