People and leashed pets will get an extra weekend on the trails in the Wenatchee foothills as the annual winter closure of the Sage Hills trails is delayed to Monday, Dec. 3.
Von Pope, PUD senior biologist, said the number of deer moving down into the Sage Hills from higher elevations is a little less than average for November. That offered the opportunity to keep the trails open to people and leashed pets for a final weekend, without an impact on wildlife, Pope said.
Chelan County PUD, the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT) and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) coordinate the winter area closure to protect wintering mule deer and other wildlife. The seasonal closure, which includes the habitat stretching across the Sage Hills, is monitored and enforced.
In addition, the newly developed trails up Number 2 Canyon on U. S. Forest Service land also will close to all winter recreation, according to Travis Hornby of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. That means wildlife can find quiet winter range and browse from Number 2 Canyon across the foothills to Horse Lake Road.
Chelan PUD owns about 960 acres in the heart of the Sage Hills and manages the area as a wildlife preserve as required by its federal license to operate Rock Island Dam. The CDLT supports the area closure by closing public access to the Wenatchee Foothills trail system at some area trailheads.
Olivia Schilling, Land Trust Stewardship & Trails assistant, noted that Chelan County still plans to close the gate to vehicles on Horse Lake Road on Dec. 1. The road remains open through the winter for people-powered recreation and leashed pets, but there is no trail access.
Plans are to reopen the Sage Hills Trails to hikers and bicyclists on or close to April 1, 2019, if habitat conditions allow.
Following next Monday’s closure, and until the Sage Hills Trails reopen, hikers and mountain bikers are encouraged to use the Apple Capital Loop Trail, Saddle Rock, Dry Gulch (main road only), Lower Castle Rock and the Jacobson Preserve trails. A trail map showing alternative routes is posted on the CDLT website.
For more information contact Von Pope, Chelan PUD Wildlife Program manager, at (509) 661- 4625, or firstname.lastname@example.org; CDLT Trails and Stewardship Coordinator Hanne Beener, (509) 667-9708, or email@example.com; or the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Wenatchee District Office, at (509) 662-0452.
Learn more about Chelan PUD at www.chelanpud.org and find us on Facebook.com/ChelanPUD and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD.
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