Corps cuts local park operations

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WALLA WALLA -- Parks and recreations areas operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are facing cutbacks due to budget cuts, and the Corps is seeking volunteers to help with routine maintenance.

However, the good news is Mill Creek and Bennington Lake and facilities at Lower Granite Lock and Dam near Pomeroy will not be affected, Corps officials said. The changes also will not affect recreation facilities operated by lease holders.

The cutbacks are due to an expected 9 percent, or $669,000, decrease in the Walla Walla District's recreation budget in the coming fiscal year, which starts Friday. Most of the changes will begin to be seen in 2012.

"Our primary recreation mandate is to maintain access to water-based recreation areas, and we'll continue to do that to the best of our abilities," District Commander Lt. Col. David Caldwell said in a release. "Unfortunately, we're at the point where we have to reduce services, shorten seasons and mothball facilities to stay within our budget. ...We're well aware of recreational and economic impacts of any changes to this program, and our decisions aren't made lightly."

Caldwell said the district also is inviting local volunteers and organizations to assist with maintenance and other chores to keep Corps-operated recreation facilities open or operating.

For details on volunteering, contact District Natural Resources Management at 527-7139 or online at VolunteerCOEWalla@usace.army.mil.

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