Camping on BLM Land
Camping on BLM Land in Washington State
By TOM WAGNER
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act requires the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to manage public domain lands for sustained yield and multiple uses, from farming, ranching, timber and mineral management to recreation. In the Spokane Region—including the entire state of Washington—most of the BLM campsites lie in central and eastern Washington, an area dominated by white fir, juniper and ponderosa pine forests mixed with grasslands and more arid shrub steppe.
Recreational Opportunities on Washington BLM Land
Other than camping, Washington State’s BLM sites offer semi-private getaways to Cascade forests, lakes and rivers, scenic coastlines and the scenic high deserts of eastern Washington. BLM manages boat launches and visitors’ centers in several areas, and hundreds of miles of hiking, biking and off-roading trails crisscross many BLM sites. Other activities include bird and nature watching, fossil collecting, horseback riding and fishing.
Some of Washington State’s developed BLM campgrounds have no fees, but most require a low fee for camping; or you can stay in undeveloped areas for free, but such sites lack all amenities. You can camp for up to two weeks in BLM-managed sites, whether those with fees or free sites. You may bring pets, but they must remain on a leash or otherwise controlled in developed sites. In undeveloped sites, you may let your pets run free; however, though they cannot create a danger or be pests to wildlife or other visitors.
Rules Concerning Campfires
Most developed campsites in Washington State have ringed fire pits. You may make campfires in the fire rings or in portable cook stoves, barbecue grills or fireplaces only. You may not collect firewood in developed areas, though it is available for sale in some. If you do not bring your own, you may have to camp without a fire.
Camping in some undeveloped areas may be impermissible during high fire danger times. Otherwise, you must clear your own fire pit by digging down to bare earth, preferably ringing it with stones, and you should keep your fire small. You may collect dead wood for campfires in undeveloped areas. Never leave your fire unattended and extinguish it completely before leaving or bedding down for the night.
Hunting and Fishing
You may hunt and fish for recreation on BLM land, provided you have the proper licenses for Washington State. Fishing licenses must be displayed on your outer clothing and visible from a distance. You must follow all posted state regulations regarding these practices, and you may not use firearms anywhere near inhabited areas.
Collecting Petrified Wood from BLM Land
You may collect as much as 25 pounds plus one piece of petrified wood per day while visiting Washington State BLM lands, or up to 250 pounds per year, but only for personal collections. Commercial gathering of petrified wood is a punishable offense, unless you have a contract with BLM through the district office.
Spokane District Campgrounds
In Yakima River Canyon Campground, the developed campground sets you among tall cliffs of basalt and gentle desert hills. Recreation in the area includes fishing in the river and streams and hiking, biking and enjoying the scenic wonders and rich biodiversity of the region.
The eight developed campsites at Chopaka Lake provide peaceful serenity for the city-weary. Fishing and boating are favorite lake activities, or you can spend your time hiking and nature watching. With luck, you may glimpse mountain goats on the rocky mountainside near the lake. If you really want to get away from it all, you can hike around the lake or take a boat across and stay in the undeveloped areas.
Fishtrap Recreation Area consists of more than 7,000 acres of undeveloped land, ranging from lake forests to grassland to chaparral to wetlands. Many wild animals wander this area, particularly uncommon wading birds. The varied landscapes draw many visitors, but while there be sure to visit the old farmstead.
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