Regulated Access Programs
Several opportunities exist to experience waterfowl hunting through WDFW’s Regulated Access Programs that focus on improving hunting conditions and minimizing disturbance to waterfowl. These areas are designed to provide low density hunter access and are closed to commercial guiding uses. For more information visit: https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/locations/waterfowl-access-areas
Public Land Opportunities: See WAC 220-416-080
Bailie Memorial Youth Ranch is located in Franklin County north of Basin City. Hunting is allowed Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, and state holidays during the youth hunt and regular hunting seasons. Hunters must park and register in designated parking lots located at either Bailie Lake or Hendricks Road. Parking is limited to 5 vehicles per lot. Additional restrictions are posted at the parking lots. Contact WDFW's Region 3 Office for more information.
Frenchman Ponds is located on the Desert Wildlife Area southwest of Moses Lake at T17, R27E, sections 8 and 9. Access is every day during the youth hunt and regular waterfowl season. All visitors using the area must register and park in the designated parking lot. Parking is limited to 7 vehicles, 5 in the main parking lots and 2 reserved for disabled hunters. Vehicles are not allowed into the parking lot before 4:00 a.m. Additional restrictions are posted at the parking lot. Contact WDFW's Region 2 Office for more information and to reserve the disabled hunter blinds.
Mesa Lake is located in Franklin County west of Mesa, WA. Access is allowed year-round, seven days per week. All visitors using the area must park in designated lots off of either Langford or Sheffield Roads. All hunters must register to hunt. Additional restrictions are posted at the parking lots. Contact WDFW's Region 3 office for more information.
North Potholes is located on the Potholes Wildlife Area west of Moses Lake at T19, R27, S33 and 34. Access is allowed everyday. All visitors using the area must register and park in the designated parking lot located on the northern boundary of the property, just off of the I-90 south frontage road. Parking is limited to 5 vehicles. Vehicles are not allowed in the parking lot before 4:00 a.m. Additional restrictions are posted at the parking lot.
Winchester Ponds is located on the Desert Wildlife Area west of Moses Lake at T18N, R25E section 13 and T18N, R26E, section 18. Access is allowed on Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, and Management Area 4 goose hunting days during the youth hunt and regular waterfowl season. All visitors using the area must register and park in the designated parking lot located on the eastern boundary of the property. Parking is limited to 5 vehicles. Vehicles are not allowed in the parking lot before 4:00 a.m. Additional restrictions are posted at the parking lot. Note: The access route to Winchester Ponds has changed to the southeast end and is accessed by the gravel road at the substations off of Road 4. Contact WDFW's Region 2 Office for more information.
Windmill Ranch is located in Franklin County northeast of Basin City. Access is allowed year-round seven days a week. All visitors using the area must park in designated parking lots on either Marion or Colonial Roads. Parking is limited to eight vehicles per lot during October 1 to January 30. All hunters must register to hunt. Additional restrictions are posted at the parking lots. Contact WDFW's Region 3 Office for more information.
Private Land Opportunities:
The Waterfowl Habitat & Access Program (WHAP) is designed to work with landowners to allow limited access to private property. It absolves the landowners of managing hunting on their land, while increasing hunting opportunities for the public. Wetlands throughout Washington provide essential habitats to waterfowl, but also provide economic benefits to society. Drawing attention to this habitat-resource-landowner stewardship connection, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) works with the landowner to lay out each unit and ensure a safe hunting environment, while also taking landowner concerns and wishes into account. In many cases, these waterfowl compatible private lands are critical component to providing a network of food resources, resting habitats, and broader appreciation for Washington’s waterfowl resources.
WDFW compensates each landowner for use of the property for hunting purposes. Funds are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Improvement Program with additional funding provided by those who have purchased the Migratory Bird Permit.
Each WHAP unit is selected based on its potential habitat value to waterfowl, to provide waterfowl hunting access, and the landowner’s willingness to participate in the program. WDFW private lands staff members work closely with landowners to provide the best hunt scenario possible. When department staff member negotiate unit selection with landowners, two points are made clear:
- Agricultural crop preparation and harvest supersede availability of the unit to the public.
- Parking and blind location will get landowner approval before public access commences.
- Hunters should keep these points in mind before utilizing a WHAP site.
North Puget Sound has an expanded program to provide over 70 waterfowl hunting access sites (including over 40 blinds) on private lands. For more information please contact WDFW's Region 4 office.
Columbia Basin: in the past had provided access on agricultural crop stubble fields in Benton, Franklin, and Grant counties. Funding for this portion of the state was unavailable in 2019 but the new 2020 VPA-HIP grant will provide more opportunities for waterfowl hunting in the Columbia Basin during the 2020-21 seasons. Please contact WDFW’s Region 2 and 3 offices.
WDFW Private Lands Program
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Private Lands Program was developed to restore important habitats, and the wildlife that utilize those habitats, as well as increase public access to private property. To meet these goals, WDFW provides:
- Services and incentives to landowners to encourage habitat enhancement and public access on private lands.
- Assistance and works cooperatively with federal and state agencies with compatible goals.
- Information and technical assistance to landowners.
- Educational information to the public about habitat and private lands access.
Private lands are extremely important to Washington’s wildlife, as well as recreational opportunity to the public. Improving hunting access on those lands is a major goal for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Currently, there are over 500 private landowners and over 1.7 million acres enrolled in public access and habitat development agreements. In the next 3 years, we will be focusing on wetland areas, agricultural fields, and timberlands to improve access for waterfowl, turkey, big game, dove, and upland hunting across the state. There will also be growing opportunities for fishing and wildlife viewing access. In addition to these new opportunities, there will also be a strong push to improve current systems and provide a more user-friendly experience for the public interested in the opportunities that exist on private lands throughout Washington.
For additional information, please contact your local WDFW office or check out the Department’s hunting access website: wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/hunting_access.