POMEROY, Wash. – Water elevation will be lowered about 3 to 4 feet on Lake Bryan, the reservoir upstream of Little Goose Lock and Dam on the Snake River, to facilitate in-water and shoreline trash cleanup efforts planned for Monday, Sept. 15, at Illia Dunes, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations officials at the Walla Walla District.
Illia Dunes, a habitat management area and a popular beach site about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam, was closed to public use on Sunday, Sept. 7, due to environmental damage, and potential public health and safety concerns after an unexpected crowd of about 1,800 people on Saturday, Sept. 6, left significant amounts of trash and human waste.
Pool-lowering operations will begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14, gradually decreasing the water elevation until it reaches about 633 feet MSL (mean sea level). Low-pool operations will end at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 16. Lake Bryan’s current lake elevation (as of 8 a.m. today) was 636.7 feet. Lowering the water level will expose more shoreline, allowing better cleanup access.
Corps rangers advise lake users to be on the lookout for underwater hazards that become closer to the surface as the lake level drop, particularly near shorelines. Boaters should use caution when mooring vessels along the shoreline, because they may become stranded as water levels recede if anchored on or too close to the shore.
The Corps received offers of volunteer cleanup assistance. To maintain safety and efficiently manage work efforts, the Corps’ Natural Resources Management staff is coordinating with selected organized groups of volunteers to use a limited number of people during a clean-up event on Monday.
Reopening is contingent upon completion of trash cleanup and a safety inspection of the Dunes and surrounding area. The Corps is reviewing the incident and management policies with an eye toward preventing future similar problems.
Visitors can help keep the area open and clean. Illia Dunes visitors should use provided trash receptacles or take their trash with them when they leave, and the Corps provides free bags for that purpose. Glass containers are prohibited on Illia Dunes beach. Restrooms are available on site and at the nearby Lower Granite Visitor Center. Vehicles must park only in designated lots. The District Commander 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.
Release no. 14-069