POMEROY, Wash. –
With summer weather soon to wane, many people flock to riverside recreation areas to bank-up on some outdoor fun in the sun.
Illia Dunes and Granite Point, two unique natural areas managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Snake River near Lower Granite Lock and Dam in Washington, have proven popular places to enjoy outdoor fun in the summer sun.
Often dubbed “the Dunes” by visitors, Illia Dunes is a natural sand dune habitat area, located at Snake River Mile 102 on the south shoreline about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam, in Garfield County, Washington.
Granite Point, a landmark formation of granite stone, located at Snake River Mile 113 on the north shoreline, is located about six miles upstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam in Whitman County, Washington.
Both areas are currently managed for recreation and wildlife purposes, although, in recent past years, thousands of visitors – mostly college-aged – have converged on “the Dunes” and Granite Point during the weekends leading up to Labor Day and Memorial Day, often leaving trash and safety hazards for other visitors, which have required temporary closures until cleanup activities could occur.
During the next few weeks leading up to Labor Day Weekend 2018, Corps rangers, with law-enforcement officials from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, Whitman County Sheriff’s Office, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington State Patrol will work together, under cooperative agreements and/or contracts, to help patrol popular party spots on the lower Snake River.
The extra help patrolling during high-visitation periods seems to encourage visitors to follow the rules and stay safe, according to Corps staff at the Lower Granite Natural Resources Management Office. Visitors who violate laws or posted notices are subject to citation by Corps rangers or law enforcement officials.
Corps reservoir managers note that water levels at dams on the lower Snake River will remain about two feet above minimum-operating-pool levels through early September to facilitate out-migrating ESA-listed fish species. At Illia Dunes on Lake Bryan, water levels will range between 634.5-635.5 feet in elevation, and continue to cover much of the sandy, riverfront area. Go online to www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Water-Management/ and click on“Reservoir Reports” for more information about reservoir management operations at the Corps’ Walla Walla District dams.
Corps staff ask visitors to remember the following rules to help everyone have a safe and pleasant experience at Illia Dunes and Granite Point:
~ Marijuana and other federally illegal drugs are not on Corps lands at any time, regardless of state laws.
~ Cliff jumping is not allowed at any time at Granite Point or other Corps properties. Serious injury or death could occur.
~ No glass containers are allowed on the Dunes, and the Corps provides free trash bags for visitors to use for “pack it in, pack it out” trash removal. Please, use the trash bags and put filled trash bags into on-site garbage receptacles.
~ Please, be aware that Illia Dunes is a “wildlife habitat-management unit.” Respect wildlife and their habitat. Please, avoid damaging the vegetation, pick up trash and use the designated restrooms.
~ Illia Dunes parking is restricted to two nearby Corps parking lots only. Due to the size, configuration of available space and limited maneuverability for larger vehicles, no busses are allowed to park in these lots. The two parking lots hold a total of about 120 cars. Lower Granite Dam’s public vehicle crossing schedule is currently 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends; starting Sept. 3, dam crossing will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Although not a new requirement, it should be noted that tour and school buses must contact the dam at 509-843-1493 at least 24 hours in advance for crossing authorization.
~ No public parking is allowed on Almota Ferry Road, the two-lane road adjacent to Illia Dunes. “No Parking” signs have been placed along the roadway. Shoulder parking encroaches on traffic lanes, making the roadway narrower and preventing cars and emergency vehicles from safely passing. It also creates pedestrian hazards. Vehicles that are parked along Almota Ferry Road are subject to ticketing and/or towing and impoundment.
~ The Corps has the option of banning alcohol consumption on Corps lands at any time, and such bans are in place at several locations in the region. While alcohol consumption is not banned at this time at Illia Dunes or Granite Point, underage drinking is not allowed. Remember, state laws prohibit driving or boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also, be aware that drugs are prohibited on federal lands, even if state law allows it.
~ Conducting special events or parties on Corps property is prohibited without a special-use permit. Permit applications are available at Corps natural resource management offices, and take about 30 days to review and determine if the requested activity will be allowed.
~ The operation or use of any sound-producing equipment in such a manner as to unreasonably annoy other visitors is prohibited.
~ Any act or conduct by any person which interferes with, impedes or disrupts the use of the site or impairs the safety of any person is prohibited. Individuals who are boisterous, rowdy, disorderly or otherwise disturb the peace on Corps lands or waters may be requested to leave.
~ Fireworks are not allowed on Corps lands at any time.
~ Keep in mind that the river system of dams is managed for many purposes, and water elevations may fluctuate up and down, depending upon operations. Keep an eye on personal property set near the water’s edge and be sure to leave enough slack in boat anchor lines to accommodate potential water-elevation changes.
“We also encourage visitors to take care of themselves as they have a good time in the sun,” Lower Granite Natural Resource Manager Jason Achziger added. “Use sunscreen, stay hydrated, and wear your life jacket. If you can help a friend stay safe, please do so.
More information about Walla Walla District recreation opportunities is available on the District website at www.nww.usace.army.mil/corpsoutdoors.