16-061 Corps, WSU, WDFW, Sheriff’s offices team up to encourage safe play at popular river destinations

Published Aug. 17, 2016
POMEROY, Wash. – With summer weather soon to wane, 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 of Lower Granite Lock and Dam, has proven a popular end-of-summer gathering place. In recent past years, thousands of visitors – mostly college-aged – have converged on the Dunes during the weekends leading up to Labor Day.

In 2012 and 2014, unexpected weekend bashes left thousands of pounds of trash, human waste and broken glass on the Dunes. Corps staff had no choice but to temporarily close the dunes until cleanup efforts made it safe again for visitors. Although not all of the weekend partiers were students, volunteers from Washington State University provided some clean-up assistance and the university’s administration offered to help deter future incidents of misuse of the habitat area.

Corps rangers, Garfield County Sheriff, Whitman County Sheriff, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Patrol and Washington State University Police work together, under cooperative agreements and/or contracts, to help patrol popular party spots on the lower Snake River – primarily the Corps-managed Illia Dunes and Granite Point near Wawawai Landing. Visitors who violate laws or posted notices are subject to citation by Corps rangers or law enforcement.

The extra help patrolling during high-visitation periods seems to be working, according to Corps staff at the Lower Granite Natural Resources Management Office

“Visitors have responded well to the additional uniformed enforcement staff at our areas of responsibility,” said Corps Walla Walla District Natural Resource Manager Jason Achziger, “and, so far, we haven’t experienced any incidents which would require us to shut down an area.”

As summer begins to fade and another holiday weekend approaches, Corps of Engineers natural resources staff remind visitors of the following rules that help everyone have a safe and pleasant experience at Illia Dunes and Granite Point:

~ Cliff jumping is not allowed at any time at Granite Point or other Corps properties. Serious injury or death could occur.

~ Remember, Illia Dunes is not a designated “recreation area.” Instead, it’s a “wildlife habitat-management unit.” Respect wildlife and their habitat. Please, avoid damaging the vegetation, pick up your trash and use the designated restrooms.

~ 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 Almota Ferry Road, the two-lane road adjacent to Illia Dunes. “No Parking” signs have been placed along the roadway. Shoulder parking encroaches on traffic lanes, making the roadway narrower and preventing cars and emergency vehicles from safely passing. It also creates pedestrian hazards. Vehicles that are parked along Almota Ferry Road are subject to ticketing and/or towing and impoundment.

~ 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 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 is not banned at this time at Illia Dunes or Granite Point, underage drinking is not allowed. Remember, state laws prohibit driving or boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also, be aware that drugs are prohibited on federal lands, even if state law allows it.

~ 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.

~ Fireworks are not allowed on Corps lands at any time.

~ Keep in mind that the river system of dams is managed for many purposes, and water elevations may fluctuate up and down, depending upon operations. Keep an eye on personal property set near the water’s edge and be sure to leave enough slack in boat anchor lines to accommodate potential water-elevation changes.

“We also encourage visitors to take care of themselves as they have a good time in the sun,” Achziger added. “Use sunscreen, stay hydrated, and wear your life jacket. If you can help a friend stay safe, please do so.”

More information about Walla Walla District recreation opportunities is available on the District website at www.nww.usace.army.mil/corpsoutdoors.

Public Affairs Office

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