Cheney Free Press -

By Roger Harnack
Cheney Free Press 

Area lakes to reopen May 5th


Last updated 4/30/2020 at 9:56am

FOUR LAKES – Fishing will resume here and on other lakes and rivers statewide beginning May 5.

Following two weeks of growing protests over the state’s ban on fishing, Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday, April 27, announced that outdoor recreation is allowed to resume May 5.

“Based on the data we have now received, we are close to the point where we can enjoy the outdoors again,” Inslee said during a press conference announcing the reopening. “This includes fishing, hunting and the ability to play golf.”

The announcement allows residents to fish, hunt, hike and golf, provided they stay close to home and keep at least 6 feet apart.

Area lakes expected to reopen include Clear, Silver, Medical, West Medical, Williams, Fishtrap, Amber, Badger, Downs and Sprague,

Residents who have “flu-like symptoms” are still barred from recreating on public lands and boat launches.

While Inslee said reopening was “data-driven,” the announcement came just two days after what should have been the opening of lowland lake fishing season statewide. Across Washington, hundreds of fishermen have protested for two weeks, calling on the governor to “Let Us Fish.”

According to the governor, boat launches, parks and publicly owned lands managed by the state Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources and Washington State Parks are among the areas allowed to reopen.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area officials are also planning a reopening in accordance with the governor’s directives.

The decision to reopen municipal parks and recreation venues will be determined by local officials, he said.

And the federal Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area is not included in the openings.

Several state-managed areas will not reopen, either, State Parks and Recreation Commission Director Don Hoch said.

According to Hoch, a list of park openings will be announced later this week.

Gov. Inslee cautioned that the openings could be temporary if residents don’t follow his rules or if cases of coronavirus start to increase.

“This is a decision we make today,” Inslee said. “But if this virus were to spring back, we may have to roll back these measures again.”

Allowed outdoor recreation does not include public gatherings, team sports or camping, he said.

“All of our campgrounds will remain closed until further notice,” Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz added.

Gov. Inslee said residents need to remain local when they venture outdoors.

“Limit unnecessary travel; don’t make overnight trips,” he said, suggesting only “daytrips.”

Golfers venturing out to the nearest course are limited to two-somes, if golfers are not related. For families in the same household, four-somes are allowed, he said.

“When we play golf, there will be no sit-down or beverage service,” Inslee said.

Fishing and hunting

State Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind said his department is working with Oregon and federal officials to reopen a spring Chinook salmon fishing season.

He also said the agency will work with hunters to refund or make other arrangements for this with licenses and seasons interrupted by the shutdown.

“We’ll make it right for you,” he said. “We’ll make you whole, again.”

Susewind called on outdoor recreationalists to “find another place to go” if they arrive somewhere and its crowded. He also said outings should be with family members only.

While fielding questions, Gov. Inslee downplayed the reopening of outdoor recreation as a signal of other openings to come.

“We are going to have to retain plenty of restrictions past May 4,” he said, declining to give a projected date to lift the quarantines on residents and businesses.

But Inslee’s time may be running out.

To continue most of his actions, he’ll need the support of the legislative leadership — Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Andy Billig of Spokane, Republican Minority Leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville, Democratic Rep. Majority Leader Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma and Republican Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox of Yelm.

In the absence of a special session of the legislature, state law requires the “four corners” to approve of emergency orders that conflict with constitutional rights for more than 30 days.

All four have signed onto multiple quarantine orders since Feb. 29, the day Gov. Inslee declared an emergency.

Both Sen. Schoesler and Rep. Wilcox have said publicly that they are not likely to approve additional quarantine extensions.

Sen. Schoesler has called on the rural hospitals to have the authority to reopen services as several rural hospitals in his district teeter on the verge of failure.

The East Adams Rural Healthcare center in Ritzville is losing an estimated $400,000 in revenue every month under the quarantine rules, officials there have said. And the hospitals in both Colfax and Pullman have reduced staff, cut hours and slashed salaries just to make ends meet.


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