LONG ISLAND - Unusually high fire danger in Pacific County combined with thinly stretched national fire resources have forced Willapa National Wildlife Refuge to close Long Island to all camping for the safety of both the public and wildlife.

After much consideration, the refuge has decided that the isolation of the island would make both detecting and successfully suppressing a wildfire nearly impossible under current conditions.

The island's 5,460 acres make it the largest estuarine island on the Pacific coast. The island also includes a 274-acre remnant of old growth lowland coastal forest known as the Cedar Grove. Some of the western red cedar trees in the Cedar Grove are over 900 years old. The island is popular with kayakers, hikers, and archery hunters. The island remains open to day use, including hiking the Cedar Grove Trail.

The island is not expected to re-open to camping until late fall when the fire danger drops. A total burn ban is also in effect, including campfire rings and beach fires.

Visitors are asked to be especially careful and to notify refuge staff if they see any signs of illegal fires or camping on the island. As always, all motorized equipment including chainsaws and ATVs are prohibited. To minimize disturbance to wildlife, no dogs are allowed on any refuge lands including Long Island. Long Island is accessible only by boat. A 6 foot or higher tide is recommended for most boats.

Beginning Sept. 8, archery hunters will once again have their chance at elk, bear, deer, and grouse on Long Island (GMU 699). Last year, over 200 hunters spent time on the island. Nine elk were taken during the last early elk archery season. In previous years, hunters usually camped on the island.

Hunters will still be required to fill out a harvest card when hunting elk, deer, bear, or grouse on the Long Island Unit. Hunters should pick up a free permit prior to hunting and keep it with them in the field. After hunting on the island, hunters should complete the harvest information on the permit and drop it off at the refuge office or kiosk drop box. Data from the permits help the refuge better manage the natural resource. Only archery hunting is permitted. Firearms, including muzzleloaders, are not allowed on the island.

Please contact Willapa National Wildlife Refuge at (360) 484-3482 for additional information.

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