Bird watchers and hikers will be happy, within a few weeks, Bateman Island is expected to re-open.

It's been nearly a year since a large fire torched over 70 acres on the popular destination for recreationists, and Richland City crews have been working to mow and trim the vegetation that's returned since the fire. Most of the island was affected by the blaze, as seen in this photo from last summer.

They're trying to preserve as much of the natural habitat, but carefully thinning in ways to help prevent the fuel-fed blaze that scorched the island.

The island is owned by the Corps of Engineers, but leased to the City of Richland. The biggest issue they're facing, say Richland officials, is high water levels from spring run off in the Yakima and Columbia. Some parts of the island are still under about a foot of water, but it's expected to recede soon.

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