The lucky few who have been to the top of Rattlesnake Mountain understand the call for greater public access to this off-limits attraction.
They also know that unrestricted use would ruin many of the things that make the imposing mountain's summit such a special place.
But careful planning and controls can provide for both. Only a lack of imagination keeps the government from devising a plan for preserving Rattlesnake Mountain while opening it to the general public.
It's why we're hoping the second time is the charm for U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings' bill to force the secretary of the interior to open the 3,600-foot summit to visitors.
His bill, The Rattlesnake Mountain Public Access Act, would require the secretary of the interior to provide access for educational, recreational, historical, scientific, cultural and other purposes.
But it doesn't dictate details or a timeline. That's a reasonable approach that allows enough flexibility to ensure adequate protections are in place.
Hastings introduced identical legislation in 2010, but it never even made it to committee for consideration.
This time he is introducing the bill as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, the panel that will consider the legislation.
That about guarantees a hearing, at least.
We recognize that allowing more people at the top presents significant challenges.
The narrow one-lane road to the top is in terrible shape. Replacing it would be costly, and construction efforts would present some environmental threats.
But cheaper, less disruptive alternatives may be available on the western slope, through land that's been used for agriculture.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency responsible for managing Rattlesnake Mountain and the rest of the Hanford Reach National Monument, has other important concerns.
The top of the mountain, where the nearly constant winds have been clocked as high as 100 mph, is home to a unique ecosystem. The thin layer of soil that hasn't blown away supports plants that have adapted to the harsh environment, including one -- the Rattlesnake Mountain milk-vetch -- that was only recently discovered.
Cultural issues also are in play. Northwest Indian tribes consider Rattlesnake Mountain a culturally and historically significant site.
These are all significant issues, and plans for additional public access to the mountain need to adequately address the legitimate concerns of tribal leaders and conservationists.
But keeping nearly everyone off the site can't be the answer. The Fitzner/Eberhardt Arid Lands Ecology Reserve, which encompasses Rattlesnake Mountain, covers 77,000 acres of mostly pristine shrub steppe. There is room for compromise.
The optimal plan would balance at least three worthy goals -- granting as many people as possible access to the summit, protecting the mountain's fragile and unique environment and preserving the tribe's cultural links to one of the Mid-Columbia's most iconic natural features.
It's a tall order, but not beyond reach.