Make use of Reach tour

We can only imagine the disappointment of the lucky 40 who secured a seat for the Saturday's excursion to the top of Rattlesnake Mountain trip via an online reservation system.

It took all of five seconds for the tour to fill, and it appears it took hardly longer than that to cancel it.

Once we know more about what went wrong, we will use our bully pulpit to advocate for a remedy. The 3,600-foot summit of this Mid-Columbia icon must be made accessible to the public. Period.

But our more immediate fear is that the controversy over Rattlesnake will dissuade some people from participating in Saturday's self-guided driving tour of the rest of the Hanford Reach National Monument.

That would be a shame, because this centerpiece for the Reach's 10th anniversary celebration offers a terrific introduction to this often underappreciated national asset in our own backyard.

Start your tour at Vernita Bridge Rest Area on Highway 24 near the Columbia River. U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to provide information and help visitors get started.

The tour includes views of the White Bluffs, shrub steppe plateaus and the last free-flowing nontidal stretch of the river. Speakers will be stationed along the route to give talks and answer questions about history, wildlife, geology and more. For more information, go to www.fws.gov/hanfordreach or call 546-8300.