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In a typical year, many of the winter closures on US Forest Service roads in Okanogan County are lifted at the beginning of April. With this year's snowpack, some higher elevation closures will need to remain in place for a while longer.
Each year the Tonasket Ranger District implements winter road closures to maintain deer winter range and snowmobile routes. Those closures typically expire March 31.
"Many roads remain snow-covered," said Shannon O'Brien, Public Affairs Specialist. "Other roads are too soft to open to access. We're anticipating a two or three week delay."
Opening roads to wheeled vehicle travel too early can result in substantial road damage. With spring thawing and high soil moisture content, vehicles can sink into the roadbed.
"Most of the roads will likely be free of snow and firmed up by mid to late April," said O'Brien.
US Forest Service personnel will continue to monitor snow levels and road conditions. They will open roads and remove barricades as soon as conditions permit.
Information about Forest Service Road conditions in Okanogan County is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/okawen/conditions and by calling Methow Valley Ranger District 509-996-4000 or Tonasket Ranger District at 509-486-2186.
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