An island on the Columbia River between Pasco and Kennewick has been temporarily closed because of “unauthorized visitor activities,” namely using it as a toilet.
The closure is needed because of an extensive number of makeshift latrines on Borgans Island, also known as Chiawana Island, according to an Army Corps of Engineers news release. The island is littered with concentrations of human waste, toilet paper, diapers, glass and other trash.
The activities have resulted in environmental damage and potential public health and safety risks for future visitors, the Corps said. The Corps will have to clean up and reassess the situation, but no clean up is scheduled because of a lack of funding.
“We really don’t want to restrict access, but protecting the health and safety of visitors, as well as protecting the island, is in everyone’s best interest,” said Joyce Dunning, the Corps’ natural resources management chief. “It’s disappointing that the irresponsible actions of some have resulted in impacting all visitors to this location.”
The Corps will place closure signs and public notices at the island, while Corps rangers and local law enforcement will patrol it.
The Corps welcomes suggestions from Tri-City residents and governments on the management of Borgans Island and will consider offers from volunteer groups to help it with trash cleanup.
The Corps recommends that people use developed parks, like Chiawana Park in Pasco and Columbia Park in Kennewick, which are located adjacent to the Borgans Island, while it is closed.