WENATCHEE -- As wildfires continue to burn across the region, the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is encouraging tourists to come visit parts of the forest that aren’t burned or threatened by fire.
The agency issued a public statement earlier this month that much of forest between Yakima and the Canadian border is fire-free and open for visitors.
“All everybody hears about is ‘big fire’ and it’s really been a hard economic hit for communities like Pateros, Brewster, Twisp, Winthrop, Entiat, Leavenworth and Lake Chelan,” said forest spokesman Mick Mueller. “A lot of that fire danger has passed and those towns are trying to stay open for business.”
He added, “We’re trying to do what we can to say ‘Come on over. We’re open for business.’ ”
August is typically a busy month for recreation tourism in Northcentral Washington. Outdoors-minded tourists have largely stayed away because of fires burning across a large area of Okanogan County, the Entiat Valley and the Leavenworth area.
Mueller pointed out that of the seven ranger districts in the Okanogan-Wenatchee forest, four have no recreation closures. All national forest sites in the Naches, Cle Elum, Lake Chelan and Tonasket districts are open.
However, many of the forest sites in the Entiat Valley are closed because of the Duncan Fire, which has closed the Entiat River Road to the general public at milepost 18. All campgrounds and most hiking trails are closed.
In the Methow Valley, most national forest lands are closed for public safety because several fires. However, recreation sites along the North Cascades Highway are open, along with the Pacific Crest Trail and trails in the Harts Pass area.