The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is temporarily closing five units of the Methow Valley Wildlife Area to the public until next spring.

The closures will go into effect on Dec. 15 for parts of the Texas Creek, Golden Doe, Big Buck, Methow, and Rendezvous units.

The lands are being closed to public access to help protect the largest herd of migratory mule deer in the state.

The Methow Wildlife Area spans almost 35,000 acres and was acquired to conserve winter habitat for migrating deer. The temporary closure will protect crucial winter foraging habitat and support potential monitoring on the impacts of temporary recreation closures on winter deer use and movement.

The five units listed for partial closure will be clearly marked with signage, maps, and information about the closure.

The popular system of groomed trails in the Methow Wildlife Area will not be impacted by the closure.

In May, the Methow Wildlife Area Advisory Committee proposed the temporary closures and the WDFW conducted a public survey which showed a majority of recreationists also supported the closure.

The wildlife area consists of diverse habitats, including shrub steppe, grasslands, and dry coniferous Ponderosa pine forests.

In addition to aiding migratory mule deer, the WDFW says protecting these areas also benefits songbirds, mammals, salmon, and other wildlife.

The units affected by the temporary closure will reopen on March 31 of next year.

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