Outdoors

State restricts access to beach and water near Wanapum Dam

A sailboat owned by Bryan Stockdale, of Vantage, Wash., is left in the mud at the Vantage Riverstone Resort dock on Monday as up to 20 feet of water was let out of the Columbia River reservoir behind Wanapum Dam after a spillway pillar was discovered to be cracked at the dam last week. Garbage is seen that had been left in the water at the end of the dock. (Associated Press)
A sailboat owned by Bryan Stockdale, of Vantage, Wash., is left in the mud at the Vantage Riverstone Resort dock on Monday as up to 20 feet of water was let out of the Columbia River reservoir behind Wanapum Dam after a spillway pillar was discovered to be cracked at the dam last week. Garbage is seen that had been left in the water at the end of the dock. (Associated Press)

BOATING — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed five water access sites along the Columbia River behind Wanapum Dam, where the water level has been drawn down in response to a cracked spillway.

The closures affect the Yo Yo, Old Vantage Highway, Sunland Estates, Buckshot and Frenchman Coulee/Climbing Rocks water access sites plus roads from nearby wildlife areas.

WDFW officials said they closed the sites and are preventing access to the beach and exposed riverbed in WDFW wildlife areas along the river to protect public safety, fish habitat, and archeological and cultural resources. 

The reservoir behind the dam was lowered by about 26 feet after divers discovered a 65-foot-long fracture Feb. 27 along one of the dam's spillways. As a result, the water level behind the dam is at its lowest point since the Grant County Public Utility District facility began operating in 1964.

Jim Brown, WDFW regional director for north-central Washington, said the reservoir level is so low that boaters can't reach the water with their trailers, and some newly uncovered areas near the shoreline present quicksand-like conditions.

WDFW also has closed the lower ends of roads that lead into the reservoir at the Colockum and L.T. Murray wildlife areas in Kittitas and Chelan counties, and at the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant County.  The upland portions of the wildlife areas above the ordinary high-water level remain open to the public, Brown said.

“For their own safety, we're asking people to please stay off the beaches and any other areas that were under water before the drawdown,” he said.

Brown said the closures will be in effect until further notice and are being coordinated with the Grant County PUD. He said signs are being installed to inform the public, and WDFW law enforcement officers will be enforcing the closures in cooperation with local sheriff's offices.  Grant County PUD is restricting access to the river on other nearby lands.

When the closures are lifted, information will be posted on the WDFW website:  wdfw.wa.gov .  Further information about the incident is available from the Grant County PUD at www.grantpud.org/your-pud/media-room/news .  




You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
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.


Follow online:


Recent posts


Close

Sections


Profile

Close

Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
(800) 338-8801
Newsroom:
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Customer service:
(800) 338-8801