EPHRATA, Wash. – With Memorial Day weekend drawing near, Grant PUD and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) remind those planning to recreate on the Columbia River that the Wanapum reservoir shoreline remains closed to the public.
The utility, working in conjunction with WDFW, has closed the shoreline, beaches, boat launches and all shoreline access points to the reservoir, which runs about 37 river miles between Wanapum Dam and Rock Island Dam on the Columbia River in central Washington.
Grant PUD sites that are closed include:
- · Vantage Recreation Area
- · Kittitas County Boat Launch
- · Rocky Coulee
- · Sand Hollow
- · The Cove
- · Apricot Orchard
- · Crescent Bar Boat Launch and shoreline area.
- · Wanapum Upper Boat Launch
- · Wanapum Heritage Center
WDFW shoreline sites that are closed include:
- · Yo Yo Rock
- · Old Vantage Highway
- · Sunland Estates Boat Launch
- · 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. Washington State Parks has closed the Wanapum State Park near Vantage.
The shoreline was closed after the reservoir was drawn down in response to a fracture found Feb. 27 on the Wanapum Dam spillway. The shoreline is expected to be closed at least through the July 4th weekend.
There are several recreation sites open on the Priest Rapids reservoir on the Columbia River downstream of Wanapum Dam, including Priest Rapids Recreation Area, and the Wanapum Lower Boat Launch. The utility also plans to open the Huntzinger Boat Launch on Friday, May 23, which will provide access to the Priest Rapids reservoir. A full list of sites that are open and closed, along with directions and information, can be found on Grant PUD’s website www.grantpud.org. A map showing open and closed areas is available at grantpud.org/component/edocman/?task=document.download&id=761.
The low-water situation on the Wanapum reservoir makes boat launches inoperable, has created hazardous conditions and has also exposed culturally-sensitive locations. Grant PUD is contracting with law enforcement agencies, including WDFW officers for increased patrols of the shoreline. The utility is also working with private security contractors and has its own employees patrolling the shoreline.
Grant PUD and WDFW acknowledge that the temporary shoreline closure creates a hardship for those who had planned to recreate on the Wanapum reservoir section of the Columbia River. Both the utility and WDFW appreciate the public’s patience and understanding.