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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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More post-fires issues: landslides, washouts block forest roads

Dead snags fall and pose a safety hazard for forest visitors and a ton of extra work to trail crews for about 15 years after a forest fire.
Dead snags fall and pose a safety hazard for forest visitors and a ton of extra work to trail crews for about 15 years after a forest fire.

PUBLIC LANDS -- As the snow recedes in the mountains this spring, more and more carnage resulting from 2015 wildfires is showing up on national forests.   Here's thelatest report from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests in Central Washington:

On April 27, there was a landslide just above the base area at Mission Ski Area.  Mission Ridge is now closed to public access due to safety concerns as the potential for additional landslides still exists.  No damage occurred to structures but the slide is blocking the Mimi ski run. 

On the Methow Valley Ranger District, Black Canyon Road No. 4010 is damaged in several locations and will probably be closed through the summer.  South Fork Gold Creek Road is closed, Benson Creek Road No. 4150 is not drivable, and a huge boulder and rock slide is blocking Harts Pass Road No. 5400.  “Hart’s Pass is a very popular area for recreationists.  People will not be able to access Meadows Campground or Harts Pass Trailhead until the boulder and slide are removed, probably in mid to late summer,” Peterson said.

Last weekend, road fill over one side of a culvert arch failed, resulting in a long sinkhole on West Chewuch Road No. 5160 causing a motorist to be stranded for a short time.  The road was temporarily repaired and is again useable.

Two roads on Wenatchee River Ranger District—Shaser Creek Road No. 7322 and White River Road No. 6400—have been damaged, but the extent is not fully known.

Several sections of damaged road have been reported on Teanaway Road No. 9737 on the Cle Elum Ranger District.  Forest Service personnel hope to have these damaged sections repaired by early summer.  Until repairs occur, access may be limited or difficult to Beverly Campground, Deroux Campground and trails 1391A, 1391, 1399, 1392, 1390, and 1394. The Liberty-Beehive Road No. 9712 has slumped and will limit access to Haney Meadows Horse Camp probably till late summer.  Damage is also report on French Cabin Creek Road No. 4308.

On the Naches Ranger District, the bridge approach has been eroded on McDaniel Lake Road No. 1502; this road will be closed through the fall of 2017.  As a result, there is no access to McDaniel Lake area, trailhead and Trail No. 982.  Damage has also occurred on the South Fork Tieton Road No. 1000 which will impact access to Conrad Meadows.  “We won’t have an estimated time of repair for this road until we investigate the site further,” Peterson said.

Roadbeds at higher elevations where the snow is just melting off are saturated and road shoulders are very soft and easily give way.  When using forest roads, forest visitors are cautioned there could be road damage around the next bend so drive slowly and cautiously.

“I can’t stress enough that people need to take care when driving in the woods as the roads melt out,” Peterson said.   “If the road is soft and wet, please don’t drive on it and avoid driving through snow drifts as conditions change with the warming temperatures throughout the day.”

Forest visitors are reminded that more road damage may become visible as snow continues to melt.  Please contact forest offices for current road conditions or to report damage sites or washed out road conditions.  When reporting these locations, please provide the road number, milepost number and/or nearest stream crossing to the local ranger district office.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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