POMEROY, Wash. – With only a few weeks remaining before school starts again, many people flock to riverside recreation areas to bank-up on some outdoor fun in the sun before hitting the books. In past years, Illia Dunes, located on the Snake River about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam, has proven a popular end-of-summer gathering place.
Last year, it was a bit too popular.
After an unexpected Aug. 25-26, 2012, weekend crowd of about 3,000, Illia Dunes visitors left behind thousands of pounds of trash, broken glass, foam coolers and other litter on the beach and along three miles of road ditch, the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had no choice but to temporarily close the “Dunes” until it was safe again for visitors. The Dunes reopened on Sunday, Sept. 2, after a week-long cleanup effort by Corps staff and volunteers. In April, the Corps announced new capacity limits to help maintain public safety and health at Illia Dunes.
In preparation for the site’s typical high-visitation weekends, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers natural resources staff remind visitors of the following changes in operations at Illia Dunes:
~ 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. 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 the adjacent 50-mph speed limit Almota Ferry Road. New “No Parking” signs have been placed along the roadway. 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.
While the following rules and regulation are not new for visitors using Corps-managed properties, natural resources staff encourage a quick review of them to help make visiting Corps recreation areas:
~ 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.
~ Conducting special events 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.
~ 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.
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 the area, which is also a wildlife habitat management area.
Corps natural resources staff, in cooperation with local law enforcement officials, will be patrolling the Dunes and other Corps recreations to help keep everyone’s outdoor recreation experience safe and enjoyable. More information about Walla Walla District recreation opportunities is available on the District website at www.nww.usace.army.mil/corpsoutdoors.