Most areas of the 37-mile reservoir have been closed to the public since last March, when Grant County Public Utility District greatly lowered water levels to repair a fractured spillway at Wanapum Dam, near Vantage.
Since stabilizing the dam, the utility has raised water levels behind the dam to a point where access can be reopened to the southern end of the reservoir. But water levels farther north in the West Bar and Quilomene areas remain too low to open to the public, said Jim Brown, WDFW regional director for northcentral Washington.
"We're pleased that work on the dam has proceeded to this point, but we still need higher water levels to reopen some areas of the upper shoreline for public use, Brown said."
WDFW-owned lands scheduled to remain closed at least until March 31 include:
- The Sunland Estates and Yo Yo boat ramps, north of Vantage.
- Portions of the shoreline upriver from Sunland Estates, marked by closure signs.
Brown noted that WDFW made major improvements to the Sunland Estates and Yo Yo boat launches while water levels were low, installing armor matting at the end of those ramps to prevent boat trailers from "bottoming out." Using those ramps under current low-water conditions could damage the new matting as well as boats and trailers.
The department has also posted signs prohibiting access to portions of the northern reservoir to protect recovering vegetation, riparian habitat, and cultural sites exposed by the low-water conditions.
Brown said WDFW expects to remove all restrictions on public access in time for the 2015 summer recreation season, when Grant County PUD plans to raise water levels in the Wanapum reservoir to normal levels.
For more information about developments at Wanapum reservoir, see Grant County PUD's website athttp://www.grantpud.org/your-pud/media-room/wanapum-dam-spillway-response .