Category Archives: Closures

Mill Pond reopening means more summer rec opportunities on Colville NF

A new channel is being formed in the floodplain of what was previously Mill Pond

COLVILLE, Wash. (March 4, 2019) – Summer promises exciting new recreation opportunities on the Colville National Forest, as the Mill Pond Historic Site and Campground reopens after a two-year closure.

This site has been closed since July of 201,7 when construction began to remove Mill Pond Dam and restore surrounding habitat.

The campground is scheduled to reopen before Memorial Day, with 10 upgraded campsites, including new food storage lockers, and major improvements to roads, parking, signage, and bathroom facilities to better support visitors’ outdoor experiences.

The Mill Pond Historic day use site and a new trail system are expected to re-open by June 27, 2019.

The project is being performed by Seattle City Light on the Colville National Forest, as required by the Settlement Agreement for the Boundary Hydroelectric Facility License issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2013.

The log crib dam that formed Mill Pond was constructed in 1909 by the Inland Portland Cement Company, and was replaced by a concrete dam in 1921, but had not been used for electricity generation in many years. Seattle City Light agreed to perform the removal work as part of an agreement to re-license a different dam.

Two new loop trail systems will be available around the old pond site, including two footbridges spanning the old dam site and the upstream channel. The new trails connect to about three miles of existing trail in the area.

The Mill Pond Historic Site day use area will also be renovated with a large new picnic pavilion, which includes a community fireplace, new picnic tables, and accessible parking.

New interpretative signs and kiosks that tell the history of the site will be installed by late fall of 2019.

Visitors to the area will find the landscape of the old pond site has been transformed during the closure. Most of the sediment in the pond was flushed downstream with strong Sullivan Creek flows in the spring of 2018, exposing the pre-dam ground surface of the Sullivan Creek floodplain.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2018, a natural riverine ecosystem was shaped with multi-thread stream channels and extensive logjams to provide high quality fish habitat and spawning areas.

During the fall, thousands of locally sourced shrubs, trees, and grasses were planted in five different planting zones around the old pond site.

As warmer weather sets in this spring, the site will begin greening up and the final steps of the site restoration will be complete.

For more information on the Mill Pond Dam Removal and Habitat Restoration project, visit www.millponddam.com.


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Colville National Forest (press release)

Fire safety for hunting season

A mule deer with large antler rack in a hay field on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Oregon.

It may feel like fall, but just because temperatures are getting cooler doesn’t mean conditions aren’t still tinder-dry. With hunting season already underway in some places and rapidly approaching for others, USDA Forest Service land managers are asking hunters and other forest visitors remember that fire season is still underway – and that even past fires can present hazards long after their flames have been extinguished.

When hunting on public lands, remember:

  • Just because the weather is cooler doesn’t mean it isn’t dry enough for fires to start, and spread! Know before you go if there fire restrictions in effect.
  • If campfires are allowed, make sure your fire is dead out before leaving. Drown, stir, and drown again – if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave!
  • Consider campfire alternatives, such as propane stoves.
  • Do not idle, drive or park on dry grass. Vehicle exhaust, or the hot metal on the undercarriage, could ignite the grass or brush beneath.
  • Do not flick cigarettes out vehicle windows. Extinguish smoking materials in an ashtray.
  • Check any chains you may be using on a trailer. Dragging metal on the roadbed can start a shower of sparks into dry vegetation causing a wildfire.
  • Report wildfires by calling 911.
  • Any time you are travelling in the woods, let someone know your planned route, destination and expected return time.

If you’re visiting an area recently burned by wildfire, use caution!

  • People intending to hike into, or near, the fire area should remain alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. Know the forcasted weather before entering the area, assess the weather conditions while in the area, and stay clear of burned trees. Don’t camp or hang out in the wildfire area.
  • Hazard trees or snags tend to pose the most immediate threat.  Dead or dying trees that remain standing after a wildfire are unstable, especially in high winds, and can lose heavy branches or fall at any time.
  • Look up! People are often more aware of obstacles on the ground but don’t often look up and around to assess danger.
  • Ash and fallen needles are slippery and can make for treacherous footing on trails.
  • Burned-out stump holes can make the ground weak and subject to failure. Be aware that ground can be unstable, due to burned-out roots beneath the surface.
  • Loose rocks and logs are unpredictable, and can down slope towards you or out from under you.
  • Burned vegetation can also contribute to landslides, mudslides and erosion when the rain returns. Badly burned ground is less absorbent than healthy forest soil. Flash floods and mud flows may occur.
  • Expect to encounter firefighter traffic, dusty roads, and smoke in some areas. Be aware, and be prepared for possible obstacles or closures related to firefighting activity. Be careful, for your safety and theirs.

Image of a target, icons, and text: Know Before You Go - Hunting and Shooting on Public Lands. Get a map: Know where you can hunt, check for any fire restrictions in effect. Make sure your fire is dead out: Drown stir, and drown again, then check for warmth. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave. Check the weather: Avoid fires on hot, dry and windy days. Watch for fire danger ratings and ref flag warnings. Place targets away from dry grass, and do not use targets on trees. Consider an indoor range for target practice on hot days. If you see a fire, call 911 to report its location, what is in danger, and stay on the phone until help arrives. Thank you for your help in preventing wildfires!

Know Before You Go – Hunting and Shooting on Public Lands. Get a map: Know where you can hunt, check for any fire restrictions in effect. Make sure your fire is dead out: Drown stir, and drown again, then check for warmth. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave. Check the weather: Avoid fires on hot, dry and windy days. Watch for fire danger ratings and ref flag warnings. Place targets away from dry grass, and do not use targets on trees. Consider an indoor range for target practice on hot days. If you see a fire, call 911 to report its location, what is in danger, and stay on the phone until help arrives. Thank you for your help in preventing wildfires!

Reminder: Drone flights over fires puts lives at risk

illustrated graphic depicting a drone on a collision path with an airplane dropping fire retardant. Below, a firefighter builds fireline next to a burning home and trees, and a family flees a second home ahead of the fire.

ROSEBURG, Ore. – July 25, 2018 – Fire officials with the Douglas Forest Protective Association, Umpqua National Forest and the Roseburg District of the Bureau of Land Management urge individuals and organizations that fly Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as “drones,” to stay away from active wildfire scenes to ensure the safety of firefighters and the effectiveness of wildfire suppression operations. There are currently numerous wildfires burning in southwest Oregon, including the South Umpqua Complex, which is located about 45 miles southeast of Roseburg.

Nationally, there have been at least 14 drone incursions in areas where wildland firefighting efforts are underway since the beginning of the year.

Aerial firefighting aircraft, such as air tankers and helicopters, fly at very low altitudes, typically just a couple of hundred feet above the ground, the same elevation flown by drones. This creates the potential for a mid-air collision or pilot distraction that can result in a fatal accident.

A drone that loses its communication link can fall from the sky, causing serious injuries or deaths of firefighters on the ground.

Unauthorized drone flights over or near active wildfires can lead fire managers to suspend aerial wildfire suppression operations – such as airtankers dropping fire retardant and helicopters dropping water – until the drone has left the airspace and they are confident it won’t return.

Suspending air operations decreases the effectiveness of wildfire suppression operations, reducing the efficiency of firefighting efforts and potentially allowing wildfires to grow larger or threaten lives, property, and valuable natural and cultural resources.

All unauthorized drone flights over or near wildfires on public or private lands will be reported to the FAA and law enforcement agencies.

Individuals who are determined to have interfered with wildfire suppression efforts may be subject to civil penalties of up to $20,000 and potentially criminal prosecution.

“It may be hard for individuals and organizations who aren’t familiar with wildfire suppression operations to understand why it’s so dangerous for them to fly a UAS over or near an active wildfire,” Terri Brown, Umpqua National Forest deputy fire staff, said. “Firefighting aircraft typically fly in smoky, windy, and turbulent conditions. Safety depends on knowing what other aircraft are operating in the airspace and where they are at all times and this is compromised by the presence of unauthorized aircraft, including UAS.”

The 14 documented instances of individuals and organizations flying drones without authorization over or near wildfires has resulted in aerial firefighting operations being temporarily shut down on 11 occasions.

In 2017, there were 38 documented instances of individuals and organizations flying drones without authorization over or near wildfires in 12 states (Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming). This resulted in aerial firefighting operations being temporarily shut down on 26 occasions.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has imposed a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the South Umpqua Complex Fire area.

The TFR requires aircraft, manned or unmanned, that are not involved in wildfire suppression operations to obtain permission to enter specified airspace.

The FAA and state and federal fire agencies consider all UAS, including those flown by members of the public for hobby or recreation purposes, to be aircraft and therefore subject to TFRs.

A list of temporary flight restrictions in effect is available online at http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.

Avoid flying a drone anywhere near a wildfire. No amount of video or photos are worth the consequences.

graphic displaying info in caption and map of states affected so far in 2018 - CO, CA, TX, MN, AZ and UT

If you fly, we can’t: There have been at least 14 drone incursions into temporary flight restriction areas around wildland firefighting, shutting down aerial firefighting efforts at least 11 times. Drones violated TFRs 36 times in 2017, 41 times in 2016, 25 times in 2015, and 16 times in 2014. Keep drones away from wildfires!


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Umpqua National Forest, Bureau of Land Management – Roseburg District, and Douglas Forest Protective Association (serving Douglas County, Oregon) public information staff.

Guest blog: How to react to wildfires while hiking

Firefighters hike on a road in front of an evergreen forest with burning underbrush.

“You’re on your own out there. Be prepared. There are tens of thousands of wildfires every year, and because of drought and our changing climate, they’re growing in number, size and intensity,” the Pacific Crest Trail Association shared recently on it’s “Backcountry Basics” blog.

  • Rule one: Don’t start a wildfire.
  • Rule  two: Be prepared with the knowledge and tools to react appropriately if a fire develops nearby.

Learn what to carry with you into the back country, fire area closures, and how to react if you encounter signs of fire or smoke on the trail, at this linkhttps://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/backcountry-basics/fire/how-to-react-to-wildfires/


Source information: The Pacific Crest Trail Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the stewardship and support of one of America’s oldest and most recognizable national trail. The PCT was established by the National Trails Systems Act of 1968, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Benson Bridge Reopens at Multnomah Falls

Visitors stand on Benson Bridge, framed by a steep cliff face and Multnomah Falls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

HOOD RIVER, Ore. — June 28, 2018 — Historic Benson Bridge, located between upper and lower Multnomah Falls, reopened today for the first time since the Eagle Creek Fire.

“We’re excited to reconnect visitors with one of Oregon’s favorite selfie sites. Please stay on the trail and respect fences and closures for your safety and that of first responders,” said Lynn Burditt, area manager for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

The remainder of the Larch Mountain Trail, which continues up to the upper viewing platform, remains closed due to damaged sustained by last year’s 48,000-acre Eagle Creek Fire, which increased hazards of rockfall, falling trees, and landslides in areas where burned vegetation destabilized the Gorge’s naturally rocky slopes.

Oregon Dept. of Transportation (ODOT)’s Interstate 84 parking lot at Multnomah Falls fills quickly and closes frequently on busy days in the Gorge. Travelers should watch for congestion around exit 31, respect gate closures, and not wait in the I-84 eastbound fast lane for the gates to open.

Plan ahead, go early, go late, or take the Columbia Gorge Express, which runs daily through the summer from Portland’s Gateway center and Rooster Rock State Park with new stops in Cascade Locks and Hood River.

Many road and trail closures remain in effect in the vicinity of Multnomah Falls due to damage or ongoing hazards, including Angels Rest Trail, Shepperd’s Dell State Natural Area, George W. Joseph State Natural Area, most segments of the Gorge 400 and Historic Highway State Trails, and all Forest Service system trails south of I-84 in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area east of Angel’s Rest and west of Cascade Locks.

Larch Mountain Road remains closed at the snowgate, and Larch Mountain Day Use site and area trails remain closed. The Historic Columbia River Highway remains closed from Bridal Veil to Ainsworth, though Bridal Veil State Scenic Viewpoint and its short self-contained trails are open. Due to congestion, visitors are reminded not to attempt to park if lots are full, and instead visit other destinations in the communities of the Columbia River Gorge.

Please check for closures before heading out for a visit, by checking bit.ly/eaglecreekfireresponse or ReadySetGorge.com. Violators that enter closed areas are subject to citations and fines.

For the latest Columbia River Gorge NSA closure alerts and map, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/crgnsa/alerts-notices/?aid=41589

USDA Forest Service, Oregon Parks and Recreation, and Oregon Dept. of Transportation joint press release

Multnomah Falls lower viewing platform reopens March 19

visitors observe a waterfall from a viewing area below the falls

MULTNOMAH FALLS, Ore. – March 19, 2018 – Visitors can once again view Multnomah Falls with no fence in the foreground, as the lower viewing platform re-opened today. The lower viewing platform, located at the base of the falls, has been closed to the public since Sept. 4, 2017, two days after the start of the Eagle Creek Fire.

The lodge, restaurant, gift shop, and snack bar reopened Nov. 29, 2017, but the platform remained closed due to the need to rebuild a rock catchment fence which was damaged during the fire by falling debris and trees.

The reconstruction of the fence was completed late last week, and the new fence will protect visitors on the platform from trees or rocks that may fall from the hillside.

The USDA Forest Service also hired contractors to fell hazard trees and conduct rock scaling, measures which will limit the amount of dangerous debris that can fall unexpectedly.

The trail to Benson Bridge, which spans the upper and lower falls, will remain closed until the next round of repairs is completed.

Work will include the replacement of Shady Creek Bridge, a wooden footbridge that burned during Eagle Creek Fire, and clearing and repair work on the lower portion of Larch Mountain Trail. An initial trail assessment found up to 90 percent of the trail covered by rocks. Crews have begun work to clear, repair, and stabilize the trail.

The projected timeline for reopening the trail up to Benson Bridge is summer, 2018. A timeline for the trail to the upper viewing platform remains undetermined.

The recreation site, managed by the Forest Service, is one of the most popular natural attractions in Oregon, receiving millions of visitors each year. Visitors still need to access the lodge through the Interstate 84 parking lot, operated by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). When parking is full, the gate to the I-84 parking lot will close. Travelers are asked to respect gate closures and use caution on the interstate.

A six-mile section of the Historic Columbia River Highway from Bridal Veil to Ainsworth State Park remains closed with no timeline for re-opening. Rocks and trees continue to fall on the road and ODOT will keep the road closed until it can safely re-open. Nearby Benson State Recreation Area will also remain closed to protect public safety.

The Forest Service continues to work in close collaboration with ODOT and Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation to mitigate hazards in the vicinity of the Eagle Creek Fire burned area in order to reopen roadways and recreation sites affected by the Eagle Creek Fire as soon as it is safe to do so.

Staff report, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

[VIDEO] Ryan Cole, an engineering geologist based at Mount Hood National Forest, discusses post-fire work at Multnomah Falls Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, to make it safe for visitors following rockfalls and other hazards created during the 2017 Eagle Creek fire.

Columbia Gorge: incidents highlight dangers in closed areas

A collapsed wooden suspension footbridge.

HOOD RIVER, Ore. – March 16, 2018 Many Oregon recreation sites, roads and trails remain closed in the Columbia River Gorge following the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. Local first responders, such as law enforcement and Search & Rescue teams, continue to be dispatched to rescue hikers who disregard signage and barricades and trespass into closed and dangerous areas.

Responders are placed at greater risk than normal when going into the burn-affected areas due to significant hazards, such as rockfall, landslides, and fire-weakened trees that remain in the aftermath of the Eagle Creek Fire.

Hikers who trespass into closure areas will be held criminally liable for their actions by the Hood River and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Offices.

Most recently, a rescue took place on the night of March 14, when the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team was summoned to help two hikers who jumped a barrier and became lost in the Angels Rest area. Prior to that, on February 10, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office cited three juveniles for Criminal Trespass for hiking in the closed Herman Creek area and getting lost.

“Those who choose to trespass into closed areas face potential criminal charges, and the safety of volunteers will be weighed first when considering Search and Rescue response for those who become injured or lost,” said Deputy Joel Ives, with the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office.

With spring break just days away, the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), and Hood River and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Offices remind the public to observe and adhere to signs and advisories and remain out of all closure areas.

Gorge visitation will increase as spring weather improves. Visitors need to respect signs and barricades blocking entry to the closed areas. Falling rocks, trees and other debris remain a threat and crews from multiple agencies are working to safely reopen the area closed by the fire.

Six miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway have been closed since Sept. 4, two days after the start of the fire. The section of road, from Bridal Veil to Ainsworth, is still getting hit by a barrage of rock and trees, which can fall without warning.

ODOT crews regularly use plows to remove rocks, trees and debris that fall on the road. Crews have removed about 7,000 hazard trees from that stretch of road and continue to remove trees above the steep slope on the south side of the road. No date has been set for re-opening.

The following Oregon State Parks facilities remain closed:

  • Benson State Recreation Area
  • Shepperd’s Dell State Natural Area
  • Angel’s Rest Trailhead, the trail and parking
  • John B. Yeon Trailhead, trail and parking
  • Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail trailheads and trail between
  • John Yeon and Cascade Locks, including:
    • Toothrock Trailhead, trail and parking
    • Ainsworth Day Use.
    • Starvation Creek State Parl

Additionally, all National Forest System lands within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area south of I-84, west of Starvation Creek, and east of Alex Barr and Thompson Mill Road (with the exception of the Multnomah Falls lodge building, snack area, and plaza) are CLOSED until further notice to protect public safety and natural resources due to hazards resulting from  thefire damage.

For more details about the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area closures and ideas for alternative recreation sites, visit: www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/crgnsa/recreation.

Fallen rocks lie at the base of a cliff face on along the trail

This photo of fallen rocks near Oneonta Tunnel in Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area following the 2017 fire illustrates just one the many fire-related physical hazards affecting the area, such as snags (dead trees and trunks that can fall without warning), concealed and open pits caused by burned out tree roots, erosion on trails and slopes, and rock falls or landslides triggered by loss of groundcover. USDA Forest Service photo, fall 2017.