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Rules and Regulations

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Whether you want to see the scenery, view wildlife, hike the trails, drive the Auto Tour Route, hunt, fish or camp, you have come to the right place. Our mission is wildlife first so recreational activities are regulated to protect wildlife and habitat. Be safe and have fun! 

 


Vehicles

The Refuge is closed to all unauthorized vehicle traffic from January 1 through April 14. Roads open year round are Bear Creek Road from our west boundary to Refuge Headquarters, Buffalo-Wilson Road and Narcisse Creek Road.

All state traffic laws apply on Refuge roads; the speed limit on Refuge roads is 25 miles per hour. Vehicles operating on Refuge roads must be street legal with current registration, have mufflers, license plates and be in proper operating condition. Vehicles must remain on established roads open to the public. You ma park vehicles along roadsides but do not block any roads, gates or trails.

Some roads are signed "Authorized Vehicles Only" and closed to unauthorized motorized vehicle travel to protect wildlife habitat, provide seclusion for wildlife and reduce road maintenance costs. Non motorized travel is allowed.

ATV, ORV and UTV use is prohibited on all Refuge lands. Snowmobiles are only allowed on Olson Creek Road and the Flodell Snow Park parking area. Bicycles are only allowed on maintained roads including those closed to motorized vehicles. 

Hunting  

The Refuge is open for Spring turkey hunting, including the youth season, in accordance with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations. No other spring hunting including bear hunting is allowed. Hunting is allowed for all species from September 1 through December 31 in accordance with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations. The Refuge is closed to all pursuit and hunting of game or discharge of firearms at all other times. The majority of the Refuge is in Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Game Management Unit 117.

There is a 3 point minimum on mule deer and any white-tailed buck may be hunted. The 4 point minimum has been eliminated. Waterfowl hunting is allowed on Refuge lakes and ponds but all streams are closed to waterfowl hunting. Steel shot must be used for waterfowl hunting.

Loaded rifles and shotguns in a vehicle and target shooting are prohibited. The possession or use of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited. Distributing or hunting over bait and spotlighting (including using vehicle headlights) is prohibited.

The use of dogs for hunting is allowed for legal bird hunting only. Dogs are not allowed to roam at large and must be under control at all times.

Portable or temporary blinds and tree stands must be removed after three days. Permanent blinds and pits are not allowed. Do not use spikes, nails, screws, bolts or wire to secure blinds or stands to trees.

All federal and State of Washington hunting regulations, seasons, bag limits and license requirements apply. See the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Hunting Seasons and Rules brochures for more information.

Firearms  

Discharging of firearms is prohibited except when legally hunting. Do not shoot a firearm within one quarter mile of any maintained building or designated campground. The area around McDowell Marsh is closed to hunting to protect visitors using the McDowell Marsh Environmental Education Trail. Loaded rifles and shotguns in a vehicle and target shooting are prohibited. Possession or use of other weapons like cross bows, bows and arrows, air guns, spears or gigs is prohibited unless legally hunting.

Hiking  

Bicycles, horses and motorized vehicles are not allowed on hiking trails, including the McDowell Marsh Environmental Education Trail.

All areas of the Refuge are open to hiking unless posted otherwise.

Camping  

Camping is allowed only in designated campgrounds that have metal fire rings from April 14 through December 31. There is a 7 day camping limit within a 30 day consecutive period for all designated campgrounds from April 14 through September 30.

Dispersed campsites are open from September 1 through December 31. These campsites must be within 50 feet of a dispersed campsite marker - a brown carsonite post. There is a 14 day camping limit within a 30 day consecutive period for all designated campgrounds and dispersed campsites from October 1 through December 31. At these dispersed sites, all solid human waste must be buried in a hole 6 to 8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from camp, water or trails.

Do not leave campfires unattended. No drinkable water is available on the Refuge. Remove all garbage and trash- do not burn it in your campfire. Do not leave food outside overnight and do not feed wild animals. A special permit is required for all activities involving groups exceeding 25 persons or 10 horses.

Firewood  

Firewood cutting for off Refuge use is allowed by special use permit and is for personal use only. Permits are available at Refuge headquarters during office hours and cutting is only allowed from July 15 through October 31.

You may cut firewood for use in designated campgrounds and dispersed campsites. Any firewood not used while camping may not be taken off the Refuge unless you have a special use permit. Use only dead and down trees for firewood - do not cut down snags. Cutting, defacing or damaging live trees is prohibited.

Fishing  

Fishing is allowed in Refuge lakes from the last Saturday in April through October 31; in the Little Pend Oreille River, the Rookery Road beaver ponds and all other streams from the Saturday before Memorial Day through October 31.

Bayley Lake (18-72 acres) is a fly-fishing only lake with a harvest limit of one fish over 14 inches from opening day the last Saturday in April until July 4; after that date it is catch and release only. The inlet to Bayley Lake is closed to fishing. It has public access with high and low water boat launches.

McDowell Lake (47 acres) is a fly-fishing only lake, catch and release for the entire season. It has public walk-in access for boat launches. This lake has been treated to eliminate Tench (a undesirable non-native fish). Please report any Tench caught on the angler report forms available at the launch sites. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife monitors the fishing effort and harvest at Bayley and McDowell Lakes. Please complete a survey form to help us measure fishing success.

Potter's Pond (15 acres) has an accessible fishing dock, parking and restroom.

All federal and State of Washington fishing regulations, seasons, limits and license requirements apply. See the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Fishing in Washington brochure for more information.

Boats  

Non-motorized boats may be used on all Refuge lakes and ponds; electric powered motors are only allowed on Potter's Pond.

Horses  

Horseback riding is only allowed on maintained roads and horse trails. Horses are not allowed on any of the hiking trails including the McDowell Marsh Environmental Education Trail.

Camping with horses is only allowed in Bear Creek and Horse Camps. Horses cannot be tied directly to trees. Horses in campgrounds must be confined by hitch rails, tied to a high picket line or confined in portable corrals that are at least 100 feet from streams or bodies of water.

Visitors must provide food for their horses. Remove all trash, garbage, horse manure and excess straw and hay - do not burn it in your campfire. A special permit is required for all activities involving groups exceeding 25 persons or 10 horses.

Pets  

Pets are not allowed to roam freely and must be under control at all times.

Prohibited Activities  

No swimming or bathing in any Refuge waters.

No ice skating.

Do not abandon, discard or leave any personal property on the Refuge.

Do not litter.

Carrying, possessing or lighting fireworks or explosives is prohibited.

Do not make noise that disturbs wildlife or visitors.

Prospecting, mining or searching and removing objects of antiquity or of value is prohibited, including the use of a metal detector.

Do not collect any plant or animal parts except shed antlers, berries and mushrooms for non-commercial use.

No spotlighting, including with vehicle headlights.

 

Last Updated: May 23, 2016
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