POMEROY, Wash. --
With autumn’s chill beginning to creep into nighttime temperatures, many people flock to riverside recreation areas to bank-up on some outdoor fun in the sun.
Illia Dunes, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers habitat management area located on the Snake River about 3 miles downstream and Granite Point located about 6 miles upstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam, have proven a popular end-of-summer gathering place. In recent past years, thousands of visitors – mostly college-aged – have converged on these areas during Labor Day weekend.
Illia Dunes was closed in 2012 and in 2014; and Granite Point was closed in 2018, after partiers left large amounts of trash and broken glass in their wake. Although not all of the weekend partiers were Washington State University students, an organized group of volunteers from WSU provided some clean-up assistance.
This year the Corps is teaming up with Garfield County Sheriff Office, Whitman County Sheriff Office, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Patrol and Washington State University Police Department to promote public safety and to encourage visitors to remain on their best behavior.
“We are fortunate to work with members from our area law enforcement agencies,” noted Assistant Natural Resource Manager Brandon Frazier, “our staff can’t do it alone when huge crowds show up.”
Corps of Engineers natural resources staff remind visitors of the following rules that help everyone have a pleasant experience at Illia Dunes and Granite Point:
~ Parking is restricted to 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. Illia dunes parking is limited to a total of about 120 cars. Although not a new requirement, it should be noted that tour and school buses must contact the dam at 509-843-2210 at least 24 hours in advance for crossing authorization.
~ No public parking is allowed on the adjacent 50-m.p.h. speed limit Almota Ferry Road near Illia Dunes. “No Parking” signs have been placed along the roadway. Along Wawawai River Road, no parking is allowed where vehicles extend beyond the fog line into the traffic lanes. Warm-weather visitors parking on the two-lane, road shoulder have often encroached on traffic lanes, making the roadway narrower and preventing cars and emergency vehicles from safely passing. Shoulder parking also creates pedestrian hazards.
~ 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 at Illia Dunes is not banned at this time, underage drinking is not allowed. Remember, state laws prohibit driving or boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Remember that drugs are prohibited on federal lands, even if state law allows it.
~ Cliff jumping or diving is not allowed at Granite Point. Visitors cannot see underwater obstructions and risk serious injury and death at this location.
~ 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.
~ No glass containers are allowed, 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.
The Corps will continue to monitor how well visitors keep glass containers off the beach at all times, consume alcohol responsibly, use provided restrooms, not use fireworks on Corps lands at any time, and enjoy their visit without violating laws or posted notices. In this way, visitors will be helping determine future public use of these areas.
More information about Walla Walla District recreation opportunities is available on the District website at www.nww.usace.army.mil/corpsoutdoors.