WENATCHEE, WA – Chelan County PUD, the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife have agreed to open the Sage Hills Trails west of Wenatchee on Saturday, March 31.
The trail usually remains closed until April 1, which falls this year on Easter Sunday.
While deer numbers are still relatively high, the lack of snow at lower elevations in the Wenatchee Foothills provides the deer with plenty of options to find forage away from trail users.
Von Pope, PUD Wildlife Program manager, urged trail users to stay on the approved trails, keep pets leashed and give deer a wide berth while the hills are greening, providing vital browse for the animals to build strength at the end of the winter.
“The last week of March usually brings the highest mule deer counts of the winter season,” Pope said.
Land Trust volunteers will greet trail users Saturday at three points with fruit bars donated by Liberty Orchards and trail information. Look for them starting at 9 a.m., at the Horse Lake Reserve and Balsamroot trailheads and on the trail between Sage Hills and Day drives.
The season opening follows the annual area closure to protect habitat for wintering mule deer and other wildlife. It covers all lands owned by Chelan PUD and the Land Trust that are located between Number 1 Canyon and Horse Lake Road, including the Horse Lake Reserve.
The PUD owns about 960 acres in the heart of the Sage Hills and manages the area as a wildlife preserve as required by its federal license to operate Rock Island Dam. The Land Trust supports the area closure by closing public access to the Sage Hills Trail system at area trailheads.