Chelan County PUD, the Chelan Douglas Land Trust (CDLT) and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) coordinate the winter trail closure to protect wintering mule deer and other wildlife. The seasonal closure will be monitored and enforced.
The annual trail closure to protect mule deer and other wildlife is particularly important this year following the habitat damage done by the Canyons Wildfire, which burned the majority of the area crossed by the trail. The damaged area is at great risk for flooding and erosion, trail operators said. Now more than ever human impacts can negatively impact the landscape and wildlife, said Von Pope, PUD Wildlife Program manager.
The winter closure affects all lands owned by Chelan PUD and CDLT that are located between Number 1 Canyon and Horse Lake Road, including the trail system managed by CDLT in that area.
The 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.
Plans are to reopen the trail to hikers and bicyclists on April 1, 2013, if habitat conditions allow.
Until the Sage Hills Trail reopens, hikers and mountain bikers are encouraged to use the Apple Capital Loop Trail, Saddle Rock, Dry Gulch and the Jacobsen Preserve trails. A trail map showing alternative routes is posted on the CDLT website.