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Established by presidential proclamation in June 2000, Hanford Reach National Monument embraces 195,000 acres of federal lands on two sides of the Hanford Reservation in south-central Washington. The monument protects the Hanford Reach, the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River in the United States above Bonneville Dam. With summer temperatures routinely reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit and annual rainfall less than 7 inches, this is the hottest and driest part of the state. The area supports a unique community of plants and animals.
Hanford Reach comprises two separate sections. The 120,000-acre northeast portion preserves the left bank of the Columbia River, including Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Area and the Wahluke Slope and White Bluffs area. The gravel bars along this stretch of river harbor spawning grounds for the largest surviving population of wild salmon in the Columbia basin.
The 60,000-acre Wahluke Unit is open to the public. Visitors can use a boat launch, hike several trails and view the surrounding region from a scenic overlook atop Saddle Mountain; no camping is permitted. The White Bluffs Overlook, 19 miles east of the SR 243 junction on SR 24, then 8.5 miles south via gravel White Bluffs Boat Launch Road, offers a panoramic view encompassing the bluffs, the river and a series of former plutonium production reactors on the Hanford site. The boat launch is open to motorized boats November through June; non-motorized boats year-round.
The other segment of the monument lies southwest of SR 240. It constitutes the Fitzner-Eberhardt Arid Lands Ecology Reserve, Washington's largest remaining shrub-steppe landscape. Due to its environmentally sensitive nature, this section is closed to the public.
Hanford Reach National Monument, open daily dawn-dusk, is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Information is available from their Burbank office at 64 Maple St., Burbank, WA 99323; phone (509) 546-8300.
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