A helicopter flies over Wenas Lake as a wildfire burns in the Evans Canyon area on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020 near Naches, Wash.

Campgrounds closing soon

The National Forest Service announced Tuesday that most of its campgrounds in the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest will close in September or October.

Some places have already closed, according to a release, and they won’t reopen until next spring. The Naches Ranger District has closed all campgrounds except for Hause Creek, which will remain open until Sept. 30.

The Cle Elum Ranger District’s concessionaire operated campgrounds are scheduled to close Sept. 28 and sites maintained by the district will close Oct. 19. Rider’s Camp is already closed.

Most campgrounds can still be used and people can park in the area for day hikes, but they should not park in front of closed campground gates because of potential maintenance, public services staff officer Bryan Mulligan said in the release. All services such as water and garbage will not be available and visitors should check with their local ranger station before heading out to campgrounds.

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The many wildfires we are now experiencing throughout the west will undoubtedly have a devastating effect on the birds and their much-needed habitat for years to come. The Evans Canyon Fire hit the Wenas area hard damaging Hardy Canyon, an important and popular bird area. Fortunately the Wenas and BBQ Flats campgrounds and surrounding habitat escaped the brunt of the fire.

Wenas Lake itself continues to have good birding, especially if you’re looking for shorebirds. This week birders there spotted killdeer, least sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper and western sandpiper. They also noted a juvenile Bonaparte’s gull and a peregrine falcon seen flying along the west side of the lake.

A local bird enthusiast home from college took an excursion up Bear Creek Mountain and found the birds were as abundant as ever with huge flocks of dark-eyed juncos and white-crowned sparrows that appeared to be migrating through the area. One of the flocks also held a golden-crowned sparrow. He also spotted Vaux’s swift, sharp-shinned, Cooper’s and a northern goshawk as it darted out from a dense stand of mountain hemlock, Clark’s nutcrackers, Canada jays, chestnut-backed chickadee, horned lark, brown creeper, mountain bluebird, Townsends solitaire, American pipit and pine siskin. All in all it was a beautiful day with little smoke.

Email your bird sightings to kdturley@embarqmail.com and be sure to like us on our Facebook page or visit yakimaaudubon.org.

Reach Luke Thompson at luthompson@yakimaherald.com and on Twitter: @luketscribe