After weekend social media outcry from Snoqualmie Valley residents about the crowding and the lack of social distancing at North Bend trails – particularly Rattlesnake Lake, Twin Falls and Mount Si – some State agencies, Seattle Public Utilities and PSE have acted and closed outdoor areas they manage.
We enquired multiple times with Seattle Public Utilities, which manages Rattlesnake Lake and Trail, asking if they planned to close in response to overcrowding of the trail and ledge over the weekend. While we did not receive a response, the closure was announced online last night.
Per the announcement: “Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area and Rattlesnake Ledge Trail are temporarily closed to visitors until further notice due to concerns about COVID-19. We are taking these precautions to prevent crowd densities that preclude safe social distancing and recreation.”
On Wednesday afternoon PSE confirmed to us they will be closing Snoqualmie Falls Park effective March 25th
A PSE representative stated, “Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety and well-being of our customers and employees, PSE will be closing Snoqualmie Falls Park for the foreseeable future effective today. We appreciate our customer’s understanding as we work through these uncertain times.”
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (Parks) and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) also announced a temporary closure of all state-managed parks, wildlife areas, and water access areas for at least two weeks starting Wednesday, March 25. That closure is in response to Gov. Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order issued on Monday, March 23, 2020.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) then announced the closure of all DNR-managed lands to the public. The closure goes into effect Thursday, March 26th through at least April 8th and covers approximately 6 million acres of land in Washington.
Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who leads DNR, issued the following statement:
“This was not an easy decision. We treasure our forests and trails and beaches as places of rejuvenation and refuge from the chaos of daily life. But, I cannot ignore the unfortunate reality of what we saw this weekend: crowded trails, people shoulder to shoulder, and large gatherings. This behavior undercuts the sacrifices that Washingtonians of all means and ability are making in order to adhere to social distancing. And it undercuts the heroic efforts of our doctors, nurses, and first responders who risk their lives each day responding to this unrelenting epidemic. This behavior also makes clear that, while we have taken drastic measures, we have not done enough when it comes to closing areas where large crowds gather and communicating the importance of staying at home and avoiding physical contact with others. The disruptions we are experiencing are difficult and challenging – and unprecedented in our lifetimes. But they are necessary. We must bend the curve. And if we all do our part, these temporary disruptions will save countless lives.”
WDFW and State Parks and Rec commission said entrance gates and facilities will be closed, and on-site public services will be suspended. Essential staff will be present to preserve and protect resources.
Camping and other overnight accommodations on state-managed recreation lands will remain closed through April 30.