Wichita Wildlife Refuge prohibits afternoon hiking during dangerous heatwave

MEDICINE PARK, Okla. – As triple-digit heat takes over most of the state, a local wildlife refuge says it is taking no chances.

Officials with the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge say the area has been placed under a heat advisory, so they are enacting new rules to protect visitors during the summertime heatwave.

“With the safety of visitors in mind and heat in excess of 100 degrees expected to continue through the weekend, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will prohibit hiking on and off trail across the Refuge and close activities at Mt. Scott and within the Charons Garden Wilderness Area beginning at 10 a.m. on August 8, 2019,” a statement read.

Organizers say the following rules are being implemented:

  • Hiking is permitted from sunrise until 10 a.m. only.
  • All visitors must exit the trails and the Mt. Scott Roadway no later than 10 a.m.
  • After 10 a.m., the refuge will be closed to hiking, except in established picnic areas and campgrounds.

Officials say roads are still open to cars and bicycles. Also, front country camping at Doris Campground, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, and picnicking will not be impacted by the move.

“These weather conditions, coupled with the rocky and rugged terrain of the Refuge, poses extreme risk to visitors, Refuge staff, and emergency response personnel who may be called upon for search and rescue operations during the extreme heat. Refuge regulations allow refuge managers authority to restrict uses on refuge lands ‘…in the event of a threat or emergency endangering the health and safety of the public or property.'”

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