Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge lifts hiking restrictions

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MEDICINE PARK, Okla. – Since temperatures have dropped, a local wildlife refuge says it is lifting hiking restrictions.

Earlier this month, officials with the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge said the area was placed under a heat advisory, so they enacted 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.

As a result, hiking was only permitted from sunrise until 10 a.m.

“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.’”

Since temperatures have dropped, officials with the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge say the restriction on hiking has been lifted.

“The Emergency Heat Closure restricting hiking at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has been lifted! The Refuge is once again open from sunrise to sunset for all permitted activities,” the refuge wrote on Facebook.

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