Over 3000 party goers leave huge mess at Illia Dunes

ILLIA DUNES, WA - More than 3,000 people visited the beach of the Illia Dunes just last weekend where park managers said they found piles of broken glass, beer bottles and litter, in the water, along the roadways and in the parking lot.

"I don't know if I'm shocked, but it was certainly disappointing with the amount of trash that was left behind," said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District Natural Resource Manager Joseph Maxwell. "It's an area where we've had a lot of people in the past, but never to this extent with the leaving the garbage behind."

"There were so many things going on, it was really difficult to manage," said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District Park Ranger Connie Grant-Howell. "We couldn't manage the whole crowd, all we could do was just try to educate them as they went into the area."

Corps officials said although 3,000 pounds of garbage was removed from the beach, there's still three miles of ditches between the area and Lower Granite Dam, and the underwater portion of the beach that remain trashed.

They said they're currently looking into preventive ways as to avoid similar events in the future. So far suggestions include banning alcohol, limiting the amount of people allowed in the area and having time frames where the beach is closed.

"These people that went down there didn't have any respect for the resource," said Grant-Howell.

"Usually folks are pretty responsible and pick up after themselves," said Maxwell.

Unfortunately that was not the case. The amount of debris has contaminated the water and created a safety hazard for beach goers. Corps officials said the park won't open until water quality samples are returned and are considered safe for public access, and the underwater portion of the beach is cleared of bottles and other debris.

Corps officials said that since the disaster several fraternities and sororities from around the area have volunteered to help with the remainder of the cleanup.