WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Outdoors enthusiasts can enjoy spring at recreation facilities operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, at Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake near Walla Walla, Wash.
Youngsters visiting Rooks Park, which opens to vehicle traffic on April 1, will find new playground equipment to enjoy. The playground, installed in November 2011, meets American Disability Act guidelines for accessibility, as well as current safety standards, and incorporates recycled materials. It includes a central play structure with three slides and a set of monkey bars, four spinning seat toys, two spring toys and a rotator. Additional site improvements include benches, an ADA-accessible table and ramps to aid access in and out of the play area.
Corps recreation planners invite the public to "play it safe" while having some warm-weather fun. Although above-water temperatures are becoming warmer, springtime water temperatures can be cold enough to cause swimmers to develop hypothermia – a severe lowering of core body temperature. State boating, hunting and fishing regulations apply to visitors at Corps sites. Hunting on Corps property is allowed in designated areas and seasons only. Boaters should ensure personal floatation devices are on board for each person – children 12 and younger are required to wear PFDs when in a boat less than 19 feet long.
Volunteers are a key factor in keeping recreation facilities clean and beautiful for everyone to enjoy, according to Mill Creek park rangers. If you’d like to volunteer to help with an individual or group project, contact the Mill Creek Office at 509-527-7160, e-mail MillCreek@usace.army.mil or watch for planned volunteer events on Mill Creek’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/millcreekdam. Individuals or organizations interested in volunteering at other Corps-operated recreation sites throughout the Walla Walla District may contact Natural Resources Management at 509-527-7139 or e-mail VolunteerCOEWalla@usace.army.mil.
Areas associated with Walla Walla District’s Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake are open to visitors as follows:
Mill Creek Office – open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Getting there: from Hwy. 12 at the east end of Walla Walla, exit south onto Tausick Way, continue past Walla Walla Community College, immediately on the south side of the Mill Creek crossing, turn left onto Reservoir Road and follow it about 1 mile to the office, located on the left side of the road.
Rooks Park – gates open to vehicles April 1 through Oct. 15, 7 a.m. to sunset (open year-round to pedestrian traffic). Facilities: day-use area, picnic shelter (which can be reserved), playground, restrooms, sand volleyball court, horseshoe pits. Pets need to be leashed at Rooks Park. Getting there: from Hwy. 12 at the east end of Walla Walla, exit south onto Tausick Way, at the stop light, turn east onto Mill Creek Road and follow it 1 mile to Rooks Park Road on the right.
Bennington Lake Recreation Area – open year-round, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Facilities: day-use area, picnic shelters, boat ramp, pedestrian/horseback-riding trails, hunting, fishing. Getting there: from Hwy. 12 at the east end of Walla Walla, exit south onto Tausick Way, continue past Walla Walla Community College, immediately on the south side of the Mill Creek crossing, turn left onto Reservoir Road and follow it to the lake. Only paddle-powered or non-combustible-engine-powered boats are allowed on the lake.
Mill Creek Recreation Trail – open year-round, all hours. Facilities: day-use area, pedestrian, roller-blade, bicycle traffic allowed on paved trail. Pets must be on a leash. The trail follows Mill Creek from the city of Walla Walla to Rooks Park, forming part of a network of over 20 miles of multiple-purpose trails. Parking and access to these trails can be found at Rooks Park, Bennington Lake and the Mill Creek Office.
For more information on Corps parks, visit www.nww.usace.army.mil/corpsoutdoors.