Washington closes wildlife area near Ellensburg to protect wintering lk

By February 2, 2015 February 15th, 2016 One Comment
OLYMPIA – About 44,000 acres of wildlife land in Kittitas County east of Ellensburg will be seasonally closed to motor vehicles Feb. 1 through April 30 to protect wintering elk.
The winter closure includes portions of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, which is managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The closure only restricts motorized vehicle access; the public may still access the area by foot, horseback, or mountain bike.

The area subject to the closure is north of the Vantage Highway, south of Quilomene Ridge Road, east of the Wild Horse Wind Farm and west of the Columbia River. This is the eighth year of the seasonal closure of the wildlife area lands, said Scott McCorquodale, regional wildlife manager for WDFW.

About 2,000 elk – nearly half the Colockum elk herd – spend winters on the Whiskey Dick and Quilomene sections of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area.

“Vehicle traffic can disturb these elk and reduce their use of habitat near roads,” McCorquodale said. “Reducing vehicle traffic on the wildlife area also may encourage wintering elk to remain on the public land rather than straying to nearby private lands.”

The winter closure is included in the new Naneum Ridge to Columbia River Recreation and Access Plan, developed by WDFW and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The plan addresses recreation and public access for roughly 230,000 acres of DNR and WDFW land stretching from the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range to the Columbia River.

The plan is available online at

Under the plan, one road, which receives minimal winter traffic, will remain open to the public. The road travels south from Quilomene Ridge Road along Jackknife Ridge to the northern boundary of the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. From there, a three-mile stretch of road through the park ultimately connects with Old Vantage Highway. Washington State Parks manages the park road under a permit system, providing free permits onsite.

The three-month seasonal closure is consistent with winter-range closures elsewhere in the state, including the Oak Creek and Wenas wildlife areas. Seasonal closures also occur on critical big-game winter ranges in several other western states, including Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming.

Contact: Mike Livingston, (509) 457-9325

Join the discussion One Comment

  • James Garner Jr says:

    My Son and I were Coyote hunting over in this area in the Rocky Coulee drainage last January 2014, calling from the north facing south slope. Just one drainage south of the Whiskey Dick. My Son spotted the Wolf coming up the drainage on the opposite side of the valley about 7 to 8oo yards out. We watched it pass right in front of us at about 150 yards and kept going west up over the far ridge. We were using a Fox Pro Shock-wave the hole time and the wolf never deviated from the path it seamed to traveling. Big Wolf I’d guess 80-100 lbs comparing to a 30 pound Coyote. No, we never fired on it, just watched it pass with it’s immunity in tact. I’m not so sure some of these winter closures are made to us from seeing the damages the Wolves are doing….That sighting was the 3rd Wolf we saw during our winter Coyote hunts last year. This winter has been a lot warmer here, far less snow and we haven’t seen any yet. Just tracks when we are up high, there’s plenty of them. Doing what we can to protect the Elk, Deer, Turkey and ground birds. BGF member. tumbleweed
    PS. we need a members Forum…

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