Cle Elum forest trails closed to cars, off-road vehicles

OKANOGAN-WENATCHEE NATIONAL FOREST NEWS RELEASE -- Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest officials have closed all trails to motorized use on the Cle Elum Ranger District until June 15 to protect natural resources during periods of heavy use, spring precipitation and run-off from snow melt. This closure does not apply to snowmobiles or non-motorized use.

According to Mikki Douglass, Off Road Vehicle Trail Manager for the Cle Elum Ranger District, trails will be evaluated on a case by case, day to day basis.  Once a trail has dried out and maintenance is completed, it could be opened prior to June 15th. Trails that are opened before June 15 will be marked at the trailhead with Trail Open signs.  It is hoped that some trails in the Liberty and Taneum areas will be opened to the public prior to Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the summer recreation season.

National Forest Lands are extremely fragile during the spring melt and run off.  Trails, as well as roads and the surrounding lands are particularly vulnerable to damage from motorized vehicles. Both on and off-road vehicles driving on wet trails or moist surfaces cause ruts, erosion and potholes.  The Forest Service and volunteer groups struggle to repair damage to trails and lands every year. One way to mitigate this damage is implementation of this closure.

Most motorized user groups support seasonal closures; many of these clubs have requested seasonal closures because they help maintain these trails. They would rather give up a couple of weekends on the trails each year to protect resources, while helping to ensure that their sport will continue to be welcome on National Forest Lands

Volunteer work is critical to keeping trails open and maintained and is carried out by individuals as well as clubs who have adopted trails. Volunteers work under the supervision of Forest Service trail managers and maintain trails by improving drainage from wet areas, cutting out trees which have blown down across trails, and reinforcing areas that have slumped. Crews will focus their efforts on the trails in the Liberty area and if conditions permit, in the lower Taneum trail system as well in the coming weeks.

Maps of the closures will be posted at all motorized trailheads. As trails open, these maps will be updated to reflect those trails that are open to motorized use.

For additional trail information please contact the Cle Elum Ranger Station at 509- 852-1100. Current information can also be found on the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest Web site at www.fs.usda.gov/okawen