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March 6, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Columbia River shoreline exposed by drawdown closed to public

The Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash.  — That new shoreline exposed by the drawdown of cracked Wanapum Dam is being closed to the public.

The Grant County Public Utility District announced the closure Thursday. The district owns the shoreline.

Utility officials say people have been drawn to the area and are even driving on the newly exposed shoreline, which is south of Vantage.

From now on, only authorized personnel will be allowed access to the shoreline below the high-water mark of the reservoir.

The utility is posting signs and is actively patrolling the shoreline. They say law enforcement agencies will be notified whenever anyone is observed trespassing on PUD lands.

The utility is also trying to determine the best way to repair a 65-foot long crack in a spillway of the dam that was discovered last week.

State and federal law prohibit removing, altering, digging into or excavating any archaeological object or site along the exposed shoreline.

At least 50 people were walking on the shoreline Tuesday afternoon near the dam.

Hundreds of fish and crawfish were dead or dying on the newly exposed shore.

Boat ramps in the Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoir are closed and at least one sailboat was docked on the river, lying crooked on dry ground.

The decreased water levels forced Chelan County PUD to stop generating power at its Rock Island Dam facility. The agency reaffirmed Grant PUD’s statement and warned the public that water levels can change quickly and slippery rocks make the shoreline dangerous.

Comments | More in General news | Topics: artifacts, drawdown, Native American


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