OLYMPIA – A vandalized state public access site on Buena Pond No. 6 near Zillah will get a makeover this month through a partnership between the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and citizen volunteers.
The 15-acre pond is a popular fishing site for trout and catfish, but in recent years the access area has been vandalized and become a venue for illegal activity. The restrooms were closed earlier this year.
Starting July 16, WDFW staff and a team of volunteers will begin work to clean up the access area for use by the public. Volunteer organizations involved in the effort include Buena Block Watch, the Mid Columbia Walleye Fishing Club, Oak Creek Wildlife Education Corps and Eyes In the Woods.
Once the area is repaired, activity at the site will be monitored with video equipment provided by Eyes in the Woods, a citizen’s volunteer group that assists WDFW in responding to statewide natural resource issues.
With support by WDFW enforcement staff, numerous volunteers have received Citizen Observation Report Training (CORT), preparing them to identify and report suspicious activity at the access site using non-confrontational methods.
“With this kind of trained help, we can do a better job of protecting access areas and ensuring they remain open for use by the public,” said WDFW’s Capt. Richard Mann.
The Buena Pond access site is one of 650 water-access areas managed by WDFW statewide.
“Unfortunately, the department does not have the staff or resources to provide continuous monitoring of all those sites,” said Steve Sherlock, WDFW’s public access area coordinator. “The involvement of local residents and other volunteers is essential in helping to keep these sites clean and safe for the public.”
The partnership to improve the Buena Pond access area is modeled on a successful clean-up effort last year at the American Lake access area in Pierce County, said Tony Wells, who manages Eyes In the Woods’ Property Watch Program. Wells and Sherlock say they hope to replicate that effort, which transformed the American Lake site from a litter-strewn area frequented by drug deals and prostitutes into a well-maintained access site monitored by volunteers.
To volunteer for the Buena Pond site improvement effort, visit Eyes in the Woods’ website at http://www.eyesinthewoods.org/ or call Leah Hendrix in WDFW’s Yakima regional office at (590) 575-2740.
Anyone interested in volunteering to improve other WDFW public access areas can contact Steve Sherlock at (360) 902-2375, or by email at Steve.Sherlock@dfw.wa.gov.