DNR Closes Vehicle Access to Harry Osborne State Forest in Wake of Vandalism, Illegal Dumping
May 16, 2023
Roads in the state forest in Skagit County east of Sedro-Woolley will reopen for hunting season, remain open if issues cease
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has temporarily closed the Harry Osborne State Forest in Skagit County to motor vehicle access after years of vandalism, garbage dumping, and other public safety issues.
The entrances will reopen in September for hunting season and possibly remain open through December, allowing DNR staff to gauge whether the problems have improved. Parking at the Les Hilde Trailhead will be closed through July 1 and camping will not be allowed through the end of the year, though the forest remains open for walk-in dispersed recreation.
“The extensive damage that we have seen in the Harry Osborne State Forest from dumping and vandalism is unacceptable, and it has unfortunately led us to close the forest to vehicles,” said Jay Guthrie, DNR Northwest Region Manager. “We appreciate that most people are responsible when they recreate in the area, and limiting access to public land is not a decision that we take lightly, but we need to protect public safety and protect our forests.”
In addition to these escalating issues, timber theft, illegal camping, and unsafe shooting practices have historically created public safety concerns in this area. Shooting at the Medford Pit in the forest has not been allowed since last summer.
DNR manages the 16,900 acres of land in the Harry Osborne State Forest north of Hamilton to raise revenue to support statewide K-12 school construction and critical local services in Skagit County.
DNR took similar action last year with the roads in the 14,000 acres surrounding Sumas Mountain after unauthorized trails and illegal dumping had degraded the landscape. Those roads were reopened for hunting season and remain open to public use.
For photos of the damage and a map of the Harry Osborne State Forest, click here.