VANTAGE The state Department of Fish and Wildlife extended Thursday the closure of four water access sites along the Columbia River behind Wanapum Dam through Oct. 31, while work continues to repair a fractured spillway.
Agency officials closed the sites and access to the beach in March, after Grant County Public Utility District drew Wanapum Reservoir down to record levels to relieve pressure on the dam.
Jim Brown, state agency regional director for North-Central Washington, said the extended closure is necessary to protect public safety, fish habitat, and archeological and cultural resources.
“For their own safety, we're asking people to stay off the beaches and any other areas that were under water before the drawdown,” Brown said. “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 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 upland portions of the wildlife areas above the ordinary high-water level remain open to the public, Brown said. Closures will be enforced by agency law enforcement officers in cooperation with local sheriff's offices, he said.
Grant County Public Utility District has also closed 38 miles of shorelines it owns stretching from above Wanapum Dam to below Rock Island Dam in response to the extreme low water level. Washington State Parks also has closed Wanapum State Park near Vantage.
For more information on access closures and spillway repairs see http://www.grantpud.org/your-pud/media-room/wanapum-dam-spillway-response.