Washington DNR seeks input on 5-million-acre outdoor recreation plan


The Washington Department of Natural Resources is seeking input in developing a statewide recreation plan that sets priorities for management and outdoor access to 5 million acres of public lands, including aquatic properties.

The agency has adopted 10 landscape-level recreation plans, but it does not have an overarching document. Officials say visits to DNR-owned and managed properties jumped 21% from 2019 to 2020 and that trend is expected to continue. Consequently, the agency says a “statewide road map” is needed to guide future planning and ensure natural, cultural and tribal resources are protected while offering “high-quality, accessible recreation opportunities” in the future.

This year, DNR began an overview process with tribes, state trust-land beneficiaries, recreation groups, other stakeholders and the public in developing an “Outdoor Access and Responsible Recreation Strategic Plan.”

The agency will host public engagement meetings over the next two months. In-person sessions are scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Jan. 18 in Ellensburg and Jan. 23 in Lacey. Virtual meetings via Zoom are slated from 1-3:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 and 6-8:30 p.m. on Feb. 6. 


The sessions are open to the public, but space may be limited and prospective participants are asked to respond to the agency to receive meeting information. The activities will be facilitated by Triangle Associates, an independent third-party firm hired by DNR to develop the plan. An initial draft will be issued and more comment will be accepted, with a final plan targeted for release by the end of 2024.

“A key part of this work will be to articulate what responsible and sustainable use of DNR-managed lands looks like for generations to come, and to ensure that all outdoor users understand and practice conservation and responsible use,” the agency says on its website. “The final strategic plan will be used to guide and support legislative and budget requests over the next ten years and set agency priorities for recreation management.”

All told, DNR manages 3 million acres of state trust lands, 2 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands, and 97 natural areas covering nearly 170,000 acres. The lands include 1,300 miles of designated trails and more than 160 recreation sites, including 80 campgrounds.