Officials Preemptively Close Sites On Snake River After Large Crowd Of WSU Students Hit The Water-Sheriff Reports No Problems Except Overcrowding Issues

Officials preemptively closed two popular recreational sites on the Snake River Saturday after a large crowd of Washington State University students hit the water.

The Whitman County Sheriff’s Office tells Pullman Radio News that the situation began when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed vehicle crossings of Lower Granite Dam South of Colfax.  A corps ranger told deputies that he closed the dam after the parking lot at the Illia Dunes on the other side of the river filled up.  The dam was closed after about 40 vehicles crossed.  The federal closure sent about 600 college students to nearby Boyer Park on the Whitman County side of the river.  The park is managed by KOA and owned by the Port of Whitman County.

Deputies were called to Boyer Park to help handle the overcrowding.  Sheriff Brett Myers and his deputy who led patrol on Saturday say the students were well behaved but by Saturday afternoon KOA officials closed Boyer Park.  The sheriff’s office did not tell the students to leave the park.  A reader board was placed on State Route 194 just West of Pullman on Saturday afternoon.  The board announced that the dunes and Boyer Park were closed.  That sign is still up this morning.

It’s unclear how the sites will be managed today.  Corps rangers told sheriff’s deputies that they will allow a limited number of vehicles to cross the dam today until the dunes parking lot fills up.  Once the lot at the dunes is full the feds will shut down the dam for crossings today.  The sheriff’s office was told by KOA that Boyer Park is closed today.  Port of Whitman County Executive Director Kara Riebold says that Boyer Park is open for camping.

The corps Granite Point recreation site above the dam West of Pullman is open today.  The location is popular with WSU students who call it “The Cliffs.”  Whitman County’s Wawawai Park near Granite Point along the river is also open today.  A large crowd of WSU students also enjoyed the water at Granite Point and Wawawai County Park on Saturday.  Deputies told Pullman Radio News that the students weren’t causing any problems at those sites.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hasn’t officially announced its dam crossings or dunes closure to the public.  Corps officials have failed to respond to multiple requests for comment from Pullman Radio News.