PUBLIC LANDS -- The Illia Dunes recreation area was reopened today as student volunteers from Washington State University helped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers clean up trash left by more than 3,000 partiers at the popular Snake River site last weekend.
The sandy beach downstream from Lower Granite Dam is one of the more popular Corps of Engineers Snake River recreation areas and a college party hot spot.
The area was closed on Aug. 27 because of glass and trash that raised health and safety concerns, said Bruce Henrickson, spokesman for the corps Walla Walla District.
"After announcing closure of the dunes, the corps received many offers of volunteer cleanup assistance from nearby university fraternities and sororities, plus individuals," he said. The corps chose to work with 64 student volunteers organized by Washington State University’s Center for Civic Engagement
. Corps officials expressed appreciation for all offers of volunteer help.
The corps staff plans to monitor Illia Dunes and the “pack it in, pack it out” policy for individuals to remove their own trash. The other main concerns are keeping glass and open fires off the beach and whether visitors use alcohol responsibly and use the restrooms rather than the beach and the bushes.
"Visitors will be helping determine future recreational usage of the area, which is also a wildlife habitat management area," Henrickson said.
Corps officials have discussed the possibility of banning alcohol after an unexpected crowd of more than 3,000 people swarmed the recreation area on Aug. 25 and 26. The corps received no request for a large gathering, Henrickson said.
Many broken bottles and beer cans were left in the water, garbage was strewn about the beach and parking lots, and litter was discarded along the roadway, he said.
More than 3,000 pounds of trash was removed from the shore, the water and along the road by corps staff and contractors, he said. The WSU volunteers topped off the cleanup by collecting another dumpster load of trash.