Umatilla refuge islands closed to public access

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is closing public access to all Columbia River islands within the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge to protect wildlife.

The islands include the Blalock Islands, the Sand Islands, Telegraph Island, Long Walk Island and the small sand peninsula located on the eastern tip of Crow Butte Island and sometimes is an island. The closures were outlined in the refuge's Comprehensive Conservation Plan completed in 2007.

"Most of these islands were already closed prior to the adoption of the Comprehensive Conservation Plan, but this new emphasis includes two beaches that are often used as boat-in recreation areas," said Refuge Manager Lamont Glass. "Many boaters have heard of these changes but we want to make sure that as any people as possible know about them."

The closure prevents disturbance to wildlife, reduces the risk of wildfire from campfires and fireworks, protects sensitive cultural resources and reduces trash and human waste, Fish and Wildlife said.

For additional information, call the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex at 546-8300.