After years of negotiations, the gates
finally have been opened for visitors to the Juniper
Dunes area northeast of Pasco.
BLM officials announced in mid-February
2007 that they had reached a lease and cooperative use
agreement on part of Peterson Road, the most popular
access road into the area. Peterson Road leads to the
recreation area just off the Pasco-Kahlotus Highway.
The road has been blocked off since 2005
when dairyman Steve DeRuyter -- the owner of 5D Farms --
installed a large dirt berm, then a locked gate across
the road that runs through his property.
The juniper-dotted dunes are public land,
but it has long had no dedicated public access.
Dunes area is comprised of
19,860 acres of federal land managed by the BLM. 3,920
acres are open to OHV use, 8,620 acres of the Juniper
Forest Area of Critical Environmental Concern are
limited to designated roads and trails, and 7,140 acres
are permanently closed (United States Congress
designated the Juniper Dunes Wilderness Area in 1984).
Elevations range from 750 feet to 1,130
feet above sea level.