Officials reopened the Illia Dunes on Sunday following a student-led cleanup effort.
About 65 WSU students combed the beach and surrounding areas on Saturday at the Center for Civic Engagement's Illia Dunes cleanup event. Students removed a large, full metal trash bin and a table that had been left floating in the water.
“It was certainly very helpful to have a group of volunteers do the final cleanup,” said Bruce Henrickson, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the land.
The previous weekend, more than 3,000 people crowded the Dunes and left the beach covered in broken glass, beer cans and even clothing. Members of the Corps pulled about 3,000 pounds of trash out of the Dunes last week.
The CCE opened a sign-up on Wednesday for Saturday’s event, and the list was almost full within a few hours. CCE graduate assistant Jacob McKissick said he was upset about the treatment of the Dunes, but he was excited to see so many students eager to help repair the damage.
However, McKissick said the treatment of the area highlights some bigger issues, like the importance of the Dunes to the university and local communities and the importance of preserving natural areas.
“This cleanup doesn’t right a wrong,” he said. “It’s like the first step in many steps that we need to take in order to right a wrong. I hope WSU students will take that part away from it.”
ASWSU paid for a bus to the area, and the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils helped organize volunteers.
“The paramount lessons to take away from the last couple of weeks are to have fun, be safe and clean up after yourself,” said Taylor Hennessey, the IFC director of scholarship and service.
Hennessey said in a previous interview that after the closure of the Dunes he received several texts and phone calls about organizing a cleanup event. About half a dozen fraternities and sororities were represented at the cleanup.
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Chi Omega member Bailey Carr was among the Greek members helping scour the beach.
Carr, a junior communication major, went to the Dunes last weekend and said she had never seen so many people there before.
“I feel like the student population of Wazzu has gotten a lot bigger,” she said. “There’re a lot more Greeks this year. So it was like let’s go hang out with our new members. Let’s go have a good time.”
Students must be more responsible with their trash if they want to continue to use and enjoy the area, Carr said.
Park Manager Darren Opp said while large crowds have been at the Dunes before, he had never before seen the level of garbage that was left behind last week.
“We just expect people to behave responsibly, take the trash with them and to treat other visitors with respect,” he said.
Opp said he was glad to see so many students out cleaning and doing their part to fix the problem.
“Last week was a disappointment for us,” he said. “But the response has been very good, and we’re very hopeful that we can turn this around.”
Corps staff will monitor visitors'behavior more closely from now on, including garbage removal and firework use.