Illia Dunes reopen after student volunteers help clean area

NEAR POMEROY, WA - The Illia Dunes is open again after more than 70 student volunteers from Washington State University teamed up with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to clean up trash left behind from the previous weekend.

The Illia dunes was shut down after 3,000 party goers left the beach in ruins. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Clarkston, broken glass and piles of garbage were left scattered across the sand, river beds and roadways. After many people virtually used the natural resource as a dump, volunteers expressed their disappointment.

"I was upset. It's your responsibility," said Washington State University student volunteer Alex Mcneill. "You bring stuff in, you got to take it out. It kind of ruins it for everybody else now that we're out here cleaning it up and they've closed it down."

"You have to pack it in, pack it out and be responsible for your own actions and leave places better than before you got there," said Center for Civic Engagement Student Involvement Coordinator Kassi Rolin.

Cougar Pride was definitely in the air at the Illia dunes as students worked to make the area cleaner than it's ever been before.

"We're very happy," said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Manager Darren Opp. "Last week we were disappointed and this brings us hope."

Students spent several hours clearing the area of trash and even waded through the water to collect leftover debris. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Manager Connie Grant-Howell said she's optimistic the incident will shed light on the importance of maintaining natural resources and the way people use them.

"I'm very happy these people have reached out and I'm hoping that in the future they'll reach out again and maybe adopt a shoreline or help us out in other ways," said Grant-Howell.

Corps officials said they've never seen the popular recreational site treated with such disrespect but are thankful students reached out to help clean up the mess. With the help of students, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was able to haul another dumpster full of trash from the area leaving the Illia Dunes open to the public once more.

The corps staff is considering banning alcohol from the dunes and plan to monitor the "pack it in, pack it out" policy which requires individuals to remove their own trash.