Walla Walla WA. - In accordance with President Trump’s Emergency Declaration on COVID Response, Water Control of Dams, and Power Generation, issued on March 13, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District has reduced staffing levels and closed many of its recreational areas.
These efforts at our operating projects, recreation sites and wildlife management areas are needed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 virus transmission for government workers and the public. Key staff remain onsite to ensure power production, navigation, fish passage and flood operations are not compromised.
"Our dams provide critical hydropower, flood protection, navigation and environmental benefits for our local, regional and national communities. We are taking every precaution possible to make sure that we meet the public's critical needs 24 hours a day,” Paul Ocker, Chief of Operations for the Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers said.
All Walla Walla District navigation locks, with the exception of Ice Harbor and Little Goose, have been returned to service after an annual three week outage to conduct routine maintenance. Ice Harbor navigation lock is scheduled to return to service on March 30 while Little Goose navigation lock is scheduled to return to service on April 4.
"The District continues to address maintenance work activities in light of COVID-19 impacts, and we are working to return all of our locks to service within our scheduled timeline, if not earlier.” Kenny Koebberling, Navigation Business Line Manager said.
When it comes to recreation, the Walla Walla District has closed or delayed the openings of many of our seasonal recreation areas. Some areas are closed to better assist local and State efforts to “stay at home” and to better ensure the public’s well-being in light of the COVID-19 impacts.
“Our government has asked that people stay home and reduce the spread of the virus and we are doing our part to support that,” Chris Alford, Walla Walla District Chief of Natural Resources Management said. “We want to encourage people to stay home and stay healthy as we navigate this pandemic.”
While not all Corps of Engineers parks, boat ramps and recreation areas are closed, difficult decisions were made to close others based on the limited staffing available to clean and maintain, the potential for virus transmission, and the ability to make areas safe for the public.
Updates to recreational closures will be posted to the Walla Walla District Facebook pages. For more information, visit any of the pages listed below, or visit our website at nww.usace.army.mil.