It's just barely the start of June, but it's hot. People are already flocking to the Yakima River to cool off.
WEST RICHLAND, WA - It's just barely the start of June, but it's hot. People are already flocking to the Yakima River to cool off. Thousands of people float, kayak and even boat a stretch of it that runs through West Richland every year. While that used to cause some problems, things are getting better.
"We just want to remind people about their responsibility as rafters, boaters. Not to throw their litter out, not to go out there and get drunk," said West Richland Police Chief, Brian McElroy.
The rules of the river are similar to the rules of the road. Like a seatbelt, wear your life jacket. Technically even a raft is considered a vessel and by law, you have to have a life jacket on board.
"Essentially, if it floats, you should have life jacket and children are required to have a life jacket on," said Chief McElroy.
But it's what happened getting in and out of the river that used to cause some neighborly no-no's.
"Last year, before they put the signage in, there was people parked clear down the street and out to 38th from here. So it was getting pretty crazy," said Troy Dornbusch, who lives on the bank of the Yakima River.
Now if you're breaking the rules you can't say you didn't know. Signs are posted all over the place telling you where to park, how to park, not to litter and not to drink underage. Still, littering remains an issue even this early into the summer season.
"Since the city put the garbage can in, it's kind of ridiculous that they can't make it to the trash can," said Dornbusch.
"This didn't ultimately solve the problem for every property owner there. We understand that not everybody is going to be pleased. But, the fact is, it's public access there. It is a public street. We have some green grass area that is owned by the city so we have to allow everyone to use that," said Chief McElroy.
Another popular spot is the Twin Bridges area. Columbia Irrigation District owns to pieces of land formerly used as parking lots there. After neighbors complained of up to 100 cars parked there at time, CID put up signs prohibiting dumping, parking and trespassing altogether. If that doesn't work, CID will put up fences to keep people out.
"I just want people to be safe. Use the resource, it's a great resource. And teach your kids the right way to take advantage of the waterway," said Chief McElroy.