As winter turns to spring in the Ahtanum State Forest, DNR is looking forward to a fun and robust recreation season.
Last season, the COVID-19 pandemic limited the typical recreation opportunities in the Ahtanum. This spring, the forest will be open for those who enjoy everything this special forest has to offer.
During this winter saw very high snowfall in the many parts of the Ahtanum. These conditions could persist through the rest of March and April, and there could be snowdrifts visible into June.
Region staff is planning to open all seasonal gates starting May 1, and camping will be open as soon as conditions allow.
Why May 1? The May 1 date was chosen because it matches other seasonal gates in the region. We’ve seen significantly reduced road maintenance costs from keeping traffic off soft roads during the spring melt-off and protecting the roads and the natural resources.
Starting in spring, DNR staff will begin their annual transition from groomed-trail winter recreation to warm, summer season activities. The Ahtanum provides many excellent warm-weather opportunities, including hiking, motorized recreation and camping. As camping reopens, make sure to check for the latest campground openings before you head out.
Seasonal openings this year include the South Fork road. The South Fork is part of a DNR recreation pilot project allowing expanded seasonal access to this part of the forest. Last year, DNR crews were hard at work making significant improvements to the South Fork road and are looking forward to a robust season. Learn more about that project.
“This South Fork pilot project represents an opportunity for DNR, the public and user groups to engage in shared stewardship of this landscape to sustain access, recreation and resources for future generations,” said Todd Welker, Southeast Region Manager for DNR.
Motorized users should follow all posted regulations and all the rules associated with travel on Green Dot roads. However, after May 1, as the snow continues to melt and conditions begin to improve, users of the forest may still encounter detours or closures in some areas due to concerns for public safety and resource protection. Those decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
You may have also seen Rich Mann, our new Education and Enforcement Warden on duty in the Ahtanum. Rich has a long career in natural resource protection. Rich most recently worked with WDFW and is a familiar face to many recreation users in central Washington. He will be working with DNR until June of 2021, when the funding for this position runs out.
His work in the forest will focus on helping users navigate the landscape and recreate safely. Please reach out to Rich when you see him, and don’t hesitate to give input or ask questions. Rich says:
“Throughout my time at DNR and working in the Ahtanum State Forest, I have enjoyed making contacts with our users and learning more about how folks use the forest and the places that our users enjoy the most. I have made almost 1,100 contacts here in the Ahtanum since last fall. I feel like I have been able to help bridge the gap between DNR and the public and look forward to meeting as many users as I can.”
To continue to bridge those gaps, DNR is also seeking public participation in the recreation program. As an agency, we are ever striving to learn from past mistakes and are continually working towards more collaboration and shared stewardship. That is why the agency will be soliciting input on road management, recreation strategies, resource management and building partnerships for future problem-solving.
There are plans for a virtual meeting this fall where users will have the opportunity to share input. We plan to find a time outside of the fall hunting season. We will address the conflict between access and maintaining roads during this meeting and brainstorm on how to make green dots work for the next 25 years. Stay tuned for more information and thank you for your continued participation in making the Ahtanum one of the best forests to visit in central Washington.
Until that meeting, DNR wants to hear from you. If you’d like to leave a comment about the Ahtanum, help us with suggestions or get specific status updates, email AhtanumStateForest@dnr.wa.gov.
It will be a great season in the Ahtanum with so many recreation opportunities. See you in the forest!
- If you are unfamiliar with the current Ahtanum Recreation Plan, you can find it here.
- The agency is also planning on welcoming back our volunteer workgroups as pandemic restrictions begin to ease. Volunteers play a critical role in the health and safety of the forest and its users. DNR is excited and grateful to welcome them back safely.
- Download the latest Green Dot road map here.
- For the latest updates on forest conditions, including recreation and important opening dates, please visit dnr.wa.gov/Ahtanum.