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Cutbacks leave rangers stretched thin at Riverside State Park

Cutbacks leave rangers stretched thin at Riverside State Park

SPOKANE, Wash. - Rangers in Riverside State Park are wrestling to bring a popular party spot called 'The Cove,' a remote section of park land at the end of South Bank Road on Long Lake, under control.

The cove has become a popular party spot for the under 21 crowd because its a remote location to be near nature with nearly no supervision.

It's easy to see why teenagers like the cove; there's cliff diving and swimming and the hike it takes to get there keeps most parents away.

"It's awesome. I've never seen it before. There's all these cliffs to jump off and the water's awesome; can't get much better than this," Patrick Cikutovich said.

Unfortunately, the people who live along the approach to this state park say problems at the cove have gotten out of hand, especially since word has gotten out that the end of the road where the cove sits is not often frequented by law enforcement.

The 600 acre piece of donated land is 11 miles from the nearest ranger station and nearby resident Chris Hoch says there's plenty of evidence of illegal shooting and fires and lots of alcohol.

"They know they can drink here safely because it's not patrolled and taken care of. They can litter and throw their stuff everywhere so its created a problem here for the rest of us who buy the pass and want to use the park," Hoch said.

Since the time you started needing a Discover Pass to visit our parks the state has lost 80 rangers in budget cutbacks while the size of their turf increased. And, on the sultry days when the cove is hopping, so are places like the bowl and pitcher. That means managers have to send the few rangers Riverside still has to take care of the larger crowds which means the cove doesn't get the attention it deserves.

"I ride, run and drive these roads every day and I rarely, if ever, see a ranger cruising down this road. they have definitely forfeited this," Hoch said.

Park officials were not available to talk about the cove because Wednesday afternoon they were giving a tour to state legislators in the hopes of getting more funding. Money and more manpower is the only thing that will fix the problems at the cove and none of that will be coming out way until the legislature reconvenes.