POMEROY, Wash. – Illia Dunes is closed until further notice due to health and safety concerns after recent heavy visitation and trash accumulation, Corps officials announced today.
During the past weekend, more than 3,000 people visited the dunes, a popular recreation site located at Snake River Mile 102 on the south shoreline about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam. Enormous amounts of trash were scattered on the beach, broken bottles and beer cans left in the water, refuse strewn about the parking lots and litter discarded along the roadway, creating potential health and safety hazards for future visitors.
“Our first objective is to clean up the area and to clear the swimming area of dangerous broken glass and debris,” said Darren Opp, park manager.
Corps officials do not know at this time when the area will reopen. Natural Resources Management staff are developing a plan and coordinating resources to accomplish the cleanup.
In light of this incident, officials will need to determine how to manage the area in the future to help prevent such occurrences.
“The area is currently being managed for recreation and wildlife purposes. It is one of the few sand beaches on the Snake River where recreation is accommodated,” said Opp.
The Corps’ recreation funding has been reduced over the last couple of years and tighter budgets are anticipated for the future, Opp noted. Illia Dunes visitors have been asked to take their trash with them when they leave, and the Corps provides free bags for that purpose.
“We simply do not have the resources to clean up after thousands of party-goers,” he said. “It’s a real disappointment. This necessary closure is extremely unfortunate for visitors who appreciate these natural recreation areas and pick up after themselves.”