A Columbia River island between Pasco and Kennewick is being permanently closed to the public after misuse, the Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday.
“It’s unfortunate that the irresponsible actions of some have resulted in impacting all visitors to Borgans Island,” said Joyce Dunning, natural resources management chief at the Corps, in a statement. “It is a very difficult, but necessary, safety and stewardship decision for our land managers.”
Borgans Island, also called Chiawana Island, was temporarily closed in fall 2014. The Corps tried reopening it last June, but abuse has continued, it said.
“Corps staff will again perform cleanup operations and install closure signs on the island,” the Corps said in a statement. “Public notices will be posted at nearby boat launches. Monitoring and law enforcement patrols will continue.”
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The Corps and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department monitor the island.
The only access to it is by boat.
Extensive human waste, scattered trash, broken glass, used diapers, carpet scraps in the water and evidence of fires, digging and damage to plants have been found at the island.
Visitors have been asked to use restrooms at nearby Chiawana or Columbia parks and to pack out any trash since the island has no services. But not everybody listened.
At the end of summer in 2014, Corps employees found extensive human waste, scattered trash, broken glass, used diapers, carpet scraps in the water and evidence of fires, digging and damage to plants.
They conducted an extensive cleanup and reopened the island on a trial basis.
But they found continued misuse requiring cleanup throughout the 2015 recreation season.
“These unauthorized activities have again resulted in environmental damage and potential public health and safety issues on the island,” the Corps said in a statement.
Cleaning up human waste and sharp-edged trash is risky to employees and costly to taxpayers, Dunning said.
Without public traffic and misuse, damaged vegetation should recover naturally, according to the Corps.