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GOOD News Regarding Bighorn and Umantum Properties

GOOD News Regarding Bighorn and Umantum Properties

BLM will officially take ownership of the accesses known as Big Horn and Lower Umtanum this Spring. Many of you have been asking "what's going on at Bighorn...?" and finally we have some answers. The short answer is that Bighorn is currently closed, but boat access will reopen in mid-May. Nothing has changed at the traditional Umtanum access.

This transaction represents the culmination of years of planning and effort put forth by numerous user groups including Western Rivers Conservancy and Red's Fly Shop.  We have managed these properties for the past 4 years, as the private landowner had notified us that he was putting the property up For Sale and was going to close these accesses unless a qualified company took over management. We never set out to manage a campground or a boat launch, for those that remember we did a lot of that after buying our property from Red and Marlene in 2002.

The Bighorn and Umtanum locations are key elements to recreation in the canyon, so we assumed the lease and continued operating them in order to keep public access streamlined and available.  Western Rivers then purchased the property (790 acres in total) from the private landowner and began working on a sale to BLM.  We have supported this effort with Western Rivers and BLM each step of the way, and we are excited to see it finally come to fruition.  We had requested letters of support from the angling community at several junctures during the process, and it made a positive difference.  The accesses are currently closed until mid May, as BLM is finalizing transfer of ownership and installing some improvements, but they will reopen for the season as BLM evaluates final site plans and best use scenarios for each.  There will be additional public feedback opportunities to offer suggestions for what they will ultimately become, and we'll send notifications to the angling community as those arise.  Thanks again and here's to public access in Washington!

Here is shot of the signage you'll see posted at each location with more information.

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Michael Hamilton - March 31, 2024

Red sitting under “his” willow tree and Marlene in the trailer selling hand tied flies, would be proud of the commitment to continue to preserve and protect public lands by Steve Joyce and his leadership team. Legacies are created through tenacity, community support and engagement. Thank you.

Mark Freshley - March 30, 2024

That is great news! Thanks to Red’s for leading the effort to bring this to fruition. Looking forward to continued access to both of these river sites. They are important for the Yakima River fishery and river recreation in general.

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