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Lucky Hanford tour winners actually not so lucky

As part of a birthday celebration for the Hanford Reach National Monument Saturday, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service was planning an exclusive tour of Rattlesnake Mountain.

The 3,600-foot peak offers sweeping views of the Mid-Columbia landscape, but it has been closed to the public since it became part of the Hanford nuclear reservation security zone during World War II.

The first 40 people to sign up were the lucky winners. Weather permitting, they were promised a trip to the summit accompanied by expert speakers on the monument, its ecology, geology and wildlife habitat.

The spaces were filled “within 5 seconds” Monday morning.

The agency had been planning the big day for months. But they must’ve missed a step.

This notice came out Wednesday – just three days before the big event:

“Tours of the Rattlesnake Mountain unit of the Hanford Reach National

Monument, scheduled for October 9, 2009, have been cancelled until further

notice, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.

The tours were scheduled under the assumption they were addressed in the

Monument’s approved management plan.  After further analysis, Monument

officials determined the plan did not adequately meet the requirements of

the National Historic Preservation Act as it relates to Rattlesnake

Mountain and public access.  The Preservation Act is intended to ensure

that cultural and historic sites are protected.

“We deeply regret the cancellation of the tours,” said Greg Hughes, Project

Leader of the Mid-Columbia National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes

the Hanford Reach Monument. “We in the Fish and Wildlife Service share the

appreciation our community holds for Rattlesnake Mountain, and we will work

to ensure the area’s cultural sites and integrity continue to be


Over the next year the Service will develop a cultural resources management

plan to address future activities on the Monument’s Rattlesnake Mountain


The opportunity for self-guided tours of open areas of the Hanford Reach

National Monument on October 9 is still available. For more information


Hanford Site

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