WDFW Restricting Access to Beach and Water Near Wanapum Dam
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has closed five water access sites along the Columbia River behind Wanapum Dam.
GRANT COUNTY, WA - The
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) 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.
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
The closures affect
the Yo Yo, Old Vantage Highway, Sunland Estates, Buckshot and Frenchman
Coulee/Climbing Rocks water access sites.
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
"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.