Inslee to loosen restrictions on outdoor recreation: “Data, not dates, determine how we act”

Boat ramps, trailheads and golf courses can reopen with social-distancing measures in place.

Nolte State Park is a 117-acre Washington state park located 6 miles northeast of Enumclaw at the western edge of the Cascade Mountains. Photo courtesy Washington State Parks

Nolte State Park is a 117-acre Washington state park located 6 miles northeast of Enumclaw at the western edge of the Cascade Mountains. Photo courtesy Washington State Parks

Starting next week, Washingtonians will be able to hike, fish, hunt and golf, Gov. Jay Inslee announced April 27.

With social-distancing measures in place, boat ramps, trailheads and golf courses and other public lands can open May 5, in addition to seasonal hunting and fishing seasons. The decision gives residents outdoor recreation opportunities that have been unavailable since Inslee enacted his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order in March.

Residents are asked not to boat, hike, fish, hunt or golf with anyone they don’t live with and to continue practicing social distancing. If the state sees an uptick in coronavirus cases, restrictions and closures could be reinstated, Inslee said.

“This is not a return to normal today,” Inslee said. “The virus is too rampant to allow that.”

Inslee’s order ends May 4, but social-distancing measures will “certainly extend beyond that date,” he said.

“Data, not dates, determine how we act,” he said. “We have a plan for reopening our state, but it depends on how the data comes in.”

While state parks are opening their gates for hiking, camping is still prohibited. Additionally, some state-owned lands might not open right away. A list of parks remaining closed will be available at the end of the week, parks officials said.

If you plan on visiting one, check www.parks.wa.gov before you go.

As of Monday, King County health officials had logged 5,990 confirmed infections, with 416 deaths. Statewide, as of Sunday, there had been 13,521 cases and 749 deaths.

Inslee’s announcement comes three days after the governor laid out a plan to resume some construction that was under way when he first issued his stay-home order.

To continue easing social-distancing measures, statistics like infection rates and hospitalizations must continue to fall, the governor said, and the state needs to see increased testing capacity and robust contact-tracing.

Washington is making progress on forming a “small army” of 1,500 contact tracers by May 11, Inslee said.

“But the models still give us great pause and not enough confidence to throw open the gates,” he said.

Some conservative state lawmakers have criticized Inslee’s order as unconstitutional.

State law gives the governor wide authority under declared emergencies, which includes prohibiting people from “gathering on the public streets, parks, or other open areas of this state, either public or private” and any “activities as he or she reasonably believes should be prohibited to help preserve and maintain life, health, property or the public peace.”

State Sen. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, contends Inslee’s emergency powers do not extend to barring a person from getting into a boat and going fishing, alone or not.

“These are very uncharted waters, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I’m very happy that he’s moving in the right direction. But sorry, governor, you never did have the authority to tell us we could or could not go fishing.”

At a rally in Olympia, Sutherland declared May 1 to be the day when fishing should return. That was an arbitrary date, he said Monday, adding that he was not planning any events to protest whatever timeline the governor might be announcing.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

An AR-15. Courtesy photo
Mags, open carry at protests and AR-15s on Olympia’s agenda

Lawmakers are eyeing a number of bills which could change firearm regulations in the state.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Lawmakers consider prohibiting use of credit score to determine insurance rates

Advocates say credit scoring makes low-income and minority policy holders pay more for coverage.

West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology.
EPA loans King County $96.8 million to prevent untreated water from spilling into Puget Sound

Loan comes a week after an over 10 million gallon overflow into the Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

Courtesy photo
Survey shows rent debt to be disproportionately distributed among minorities

More than half of Black renters surveyed said they owed rent money from previous months.

National Guard troops, pictured Jan. 11 at the state Capitol in Olympia, have been on standby in case of violent protests. (Photo by Roger Harnack, Cheney Free Press)
At the state Capitol, a quiet day amid heightened security

There were no protests or arrests as troopers patrolled and the National Guard assumed a lower profile.

West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Power outages cause massive wastewater spill into Puget Sound, Lake Washington

King County estimates millions gallons of untreated wastewater overflowed into surrounding waters.

Democrats in the Washington State House are proposing to pay for transportation improvements partly by raising the gas tax by 18 cents. (Sound Publishing file photo)
House Democrats lay out massive $26B transportation package funded by gas tax hike

An 18-cent gas tax increase and a fee on carbon emissions would fund new roads and more.

File photo
Report: 70 percent of gun deaths in Washington are attributable to suicide

Research done at The Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at Harborview… Continue reading

June 2018 algae bloom. Photo courtesy of Department of Ecology
Human-caused ‘dead zones’ threaten health of Puget Sound

Wastewater treatment plants account for about 70% of the excess nutrients.

Most Read