The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public input on a proposed rule prohibiting the construction or creation of unauthorized roads, trails, and structures on lands managed by the Department.

WDFW manages more than 1 million acres of land at wildlife areas throughout the state, and user-built roads and trails can negatively impact sensitive habitats and wildlife, as well as tribal and cultural resources, according to officials. User-built trails can also disrupt wildlife movement and create safety concerns for the public.

“The number of people visiting public lands has grown in recent years, including on WDFW-managed lands,” said Recreation Planner Heide Andersen. “The increased popularity of trail-based recreation has come with a desire for new experiences and challenges, to spread out to less visited areas, or even just quicker routes from Point A to Point B. When users create or build new routes, however, the negative impacts to resources and other visitors can last a long time, and in some cases be irreversible.”

The proposed rule would make it illegal to create unauthorized trails, roads, and structures without written permission from WDFW. It also prohibits modifying, relocating, or maintaining existing routes or structures without a copy of Department permission on site.

This proposed rule is similar to regulations already in effect on public lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service.

“This work is part of the 10-Year Recreation Strategy for WDFW-managed lands,” said Cynthia Wilkerson, Lands Division manager with WDFW. “In order to fulfill our mission, recreation must be deliberately planned and managed to consider the surrounding wildlife, habitats, and potential cultural or tribal resources that we are charged with protecting. This rule is an essential component of that work.”

Public comment on the proposed rule ends on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2024. 

Members of the public can submit comments online, via email, or by phone by calling 855-925-2801 and entering project code 8413. Written comments can also be mailed to:

Wildlife Program
P.O. Box 43200
Olympia, WA 98504

The rule is also undergoing a simultaneous State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) comment period; to view materials and submit comment for that process, visit WDFW’s SEPA webpage.

A virtual public hearing on the rule and opportunity for comment is scheduled for Aug. 15 at 10 a.m. Members of the public can attend the webinar via Zoom, or by calling 253-205-0468 and entering 87984816290#. If you would like to provide public comment at the hearing, you must register by 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14.