State extends shoreline closures for Wanapum Dam work

Staff reportJuly 6, 2014 

Four water access sites along the Columbia River behind Wanapum Dam will remain closed through Oct. 31 as crew continues to repair a fractured spillway at the dam.

Managers with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife closed the sites and access to the beach in March, after Grant County Public Utility District drew down the level Wanapum Reservoir to ease pressure on the dam.

In May, state officials said they hoped to be able to open the areas at some point after this weekend.

But Jim Brown, the agency’s regional director for North Central Washington, said extending the closure is necessary to protect public safety, fish habitat, and archeological and cultural resources.

“For their safety, we’re asking people to stay off the beaches and any other areas that were under water before the drawdown,” Brown said in a news release. “Repair work on the spillway is coming along well, and Grant County PUD expects it will be able to raise the water level in a few more months.”

The closures affect the Yo Yo, Old Vantage Highway, Sunland Estates and Frenchman Coulee water access sites.

The state agency 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 Grant County utility agency also has closed 38 miles of shorelines it owns stretching from above the dam to below Rock Island Dam because of the extreme low water level. That includes 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 and Wanapum Heritage Center.

Washington State Parks also has closed Wanapum State Park near Vantage.

The closures were the result of the reservoir drawdown that took place after a fracture was found Feb. 27 on a dam spillway.

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