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Beach parking banned at Geezer Beach by USBR

Local outcry had been against decision

 

Earl Mustard fishes at Geezer Beach within feet of the shoreline Monday. Mustard, nearly 90, has screwed a pole holder onto his Subaru's bumper for that purpose. He said he'd tried fishing from a spot on the opposite shore earlier in the year, but ended up falling on rocks, which laid him up for several days. - Scott Hunter photo

Despite overwhelming public opinion against the idea, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has chosen to ban vehicles from parking on Geezer Beach, located behind the Third Powerhouse of the Grand Coulee Dam.

A press release Monday from the bureau announced the decision, emphasizing "safety" as their reason for banning vehicles from the beach popularly fished by elderly anglers who have heretofore appreciated the easy access to the beach.

"The Bureau of Reclamation will continue to allow fishing, recreation and use of the boat ramp on land adjacent to Grand Coulee Dam, locally known as Geezer Beach," the release states. "However, due to safety concerns, cars, trucks, all-terrain vehicles and recreational vehicles will be required to park in designated parking areas and will not be allowed to drive or park on the shoreline or drawdown.

"Vehicular access is already restricted along all other parts of the Lake Roosevelt shoreline," the release continues. "The changes at Geezer Beach will ensure safe conditions and a safe recreational experience throughout the more than 500 miles of shoreline around Lake Roosevelt. These changes will be enforced by Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation Tribal Police as the law enforcement entity for that area of shoreline."

USBR Public Affairs Specialist Lynne Brougher said earlier in the year that the idea of banning cars from the beach started when the bureau received a request from the Colville Tribes to address the issue.

"This is a concern for both protection of cultural resources, and protection of water quality," said Colville Tribes' Natural Resources Director Cody Desautel in an email to The Star last year. "Driving on the drawdown is restricted everywhere on Lake Roosevelt, and for some reason it hasn't been enforced on Geezer Beach. This is a highly visible bad example that sets bad precedent, and causes enforcement issues in areas other than Geezer Beach."

The press release doesn't acknowledge that 33 of 34 of the public comments obtained by the bureau were opposed to the idea of banning parking along the beach, noting that no safety incidents have occurred there as a result of cars parking on the beach.

The bureau's Finding of No Significant Impact mentions that a handicapped-accessible fishing pier on Banks Lake is available and that the National Park Service is considering building one on Crescent Lake.

A copy of the Environmental Assessment by the bureau as well as the Finding of No Significant Impact can be obtained by contacting Lynne Brougher at 509-633-9503 or lbrougher@usbr.gov.

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