Yesterday, we included some information in our "Weekly Highlights" about recent ATV patrols in the "Yellow Zone." We asked Regional Enforcement Captain Chris Anderson to provide us with a history of the Yellow Zone, and the purpose of its seasonal closure. Below is a brief history of this beautiful area of Washington State, and how the Yellow Zone came to be.
The Moses Lake Off-Road Vehicle Park was established in 1976 under an agreement between the Department of Game, Department of Natural Resources, the Bureau of Reclamation and Grant County. The state agencies, at the time, wanted more protection for wildlife and the habitat located along the north shore of the Potholes Reservoir and Crab Creek, and the county agreed to establish a seasonal closure from October to December. This closure was designed to protect terrestrial habitat and reduce the potential disturbances to waterfowl hunters in the fall caused by motorized vehicles.
In 1984 representatives from the Department of Game, Grant County and the Bureau of Reclamation created a new management plan and land use agreement that divided the entire area located between the Potholes Reservoir and the City of Moses Lake into three colored zones that were to be managed separately: Green Zone (open to motorized traffic year around), Red Zone (permanently closed to motorized traffic), and Yellow Zone (seasonally closed to motorized traffic). Under the new land use agreement that would allow the county to expand the off-road vehicle park, Grant County officials agreed to extend the Yellow Zone closure dates from 3 to 5 months, starting October 1st and ending February 1st. The Department's goal was to ensure adequate protection of wildlife and to maintain waterfowl hunting opportunities.
In 1989 the Department of Wildlife agreed to support Grant County and IAC officials in their quest to obtain some private property in the area to again expand the park boundaries. In exchange for the State's support, county officials agreed to extend the seasonal closure from 5 to 9 months of every year. The closure begins October 1st and ends June 30th of the following year. The expanded closure was designed to protect nesting shorebirds that depend on the area in the spring. Again, the fall closure was to eliminate disturbances by motorized traffic during the migratory waterfowl hunting season.
The Yellow Zone encompasses a large area consisting of medium and small bodies of water, sand dunes, brush, trees, and islands created by the rise and fall of the waters of the reservoir. The outside boundary area is partially fenced with signs displayed in an effort to keep vehicles out of the area during the nine-month closure. The WDFW Wildlife Program has asked that enforcement of the seasonal closure be a high law enforcement priority, so local Fish and Wildlife police officers have vigorously enforced the regulations over the years.
Unfortunately, some folks just don't seem to respect the law...
|This kid decided to take his parents' new jeep |
out for a spin in the Yellow Zone. Guess what he got?
A citation and a towing bill.
|These individuals were recently cited for riding |
their dirt bikes in the Yellow Zone while closed.