Outdoors

Snake River dunes patrolled for college parties

Illia Dunes was closed in the last week of August 2012 due to health and safety concerns caused by visitors's trash. During the weekend before the Labor Day holiday weekend, more than 3,000 visitors descended upon the dunes, a popular recreation site located at Snake River Mile 102 on the south shoreline about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam. As result, enormous amounts of trash were scattered on the beach, broken bottles and beer cans left in the water, refuse strewn about the parking lots and litter discarded along the roadway, creating potential health and safety hazards for future visitors. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
Illia Dunes was closed in the last week of August 2012 due to health and safety concerns caused by visitors's trash. During the weekend before the Labor Day holiday weekend, more than 3,000 visitors descended upon the dunes, a popular recreation site located at Snake River Mile 102 on the south shoreline about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam. As result, enormous amounts of trash were scattered on the beach, broken bottles and beer cans left in the water, refuse strewn about the parking lots and litter discarded along the roadway, creating potential health and safety hazards for future visitors. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

PUBLIC LANDS — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is warning college students that officers will be patrolling popular sand-dune party spots along the Snake River.

Some public land areas are notorious for big parties, especially after the Aug. 25-26, 2012, blowout at Illia Dunes that attracted about 3,000 partiers and left behind thousands of pounds of trash, broken glass, foam coolers and other liter along the beach as well as about three miles of road ditch. The area had to be closed to the public for cleanup.

Illia Dunes, on the Snake River about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam, is a popular end-of-summer gathering place for students — but it will be patrolled. 

Read on for the rules from the Corps:
  • 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
 



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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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