eagle creek fire

New rockslides delay reopening of Historic Columbia River Highway

Avatar by on August 3rd, 2018 at 9:06 am

Still from USFS video of rockslide above Historic Columbia River Highway in the Gorge.
(Watch video below)

Bummer news from the Oregon Department of Transportation: New rockslides have set back their plans to reopen six miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway that have been closed since last fall due to the Eagle Creek Fire.

The slides happened on the section of highway between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth State Park. As we reported last month, ODOT hoped to reopen that section of road with an experimental new lane configuration in September.

In a statement yesterday, ODOT Region 1 Manager Rian Windsheimer said, “This setback is a real disappointment to us. Our crews have been working hard to get these areas cleared. But there’s plenty to do before we can safely reopen the road.”

Video (below) of one of the slides near Horsetail Falls, taken by the US Forest Service, shows rocks rolling down a steep hill directly onto the highway.
[Read more…]

ODOT will create carfree lane on Historic Columbia River Highway when it reopens this fall

Avatar by on July 11th, 2018 at 10:15 am

Cross-section of ODOT’s “phased reopening” plan for the Historic Columbia River Highway.

“This is a great opportunity to try it and see how it operates.”
— Terra Lingley, ODOT Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Coordinator

They say when a fire strikes a forest it comes back even healthier than before. The same might be true for the Historic Columbia River Highway.

When a six-mile section of the scenic road reopens this fall following a one-year closure due to the Eagle Creek Fire, the Oregon Department of Transportation says it’ll have one fewer lane for automobile users. Referred to as the “phased reopening” plan, ODOT will limit automobile use to one lane in the eastbound direction for a five mile section between the Benson State Recreation Area/Hartman Pond (Exit 30) and Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35). The westbound lane will be set aside for walking, rolling, and emergency vehicles (see map graphic below).
[Read more…]

Eagle Creek Fire/Historic Hwy update from ODOT

Avatar by on October 19th, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Taken from 10/12 Historic Columbia River Highway newsletter:

Eagle Creek Fire Update

As of October 11, according to the Eagle Creek Fire Incident managers, the fire has burned 48,831 acres and is 50 percent contained.

Cooler temperatures and rain will help reduce the potential for significant fire activity. The uncontained portion of the fire is in steep, inaccessible terrain and fire managers do not anticipate the wildfire will spread in these areas.

Falling trees and rocks punched through wooden railings and decorative rail along the Historic Highway. Rocks of varying sizes slid down slopes and off of steep hillsides. In many places, the rocks and trees line that the road and those in the distance are charred and likely weakened.

The fire removed vegetation, underbrush and tree roots that support the Columbia Gorge. We expect to see land and rock slides with additional rain.

ODOT crews and hired contractors continue to remove trees in danger of falling into the roadway, scale slopes to remove debris and rocks, and inspect structures.

The Historic Highway will remain closed until hazards have been removed and it is safe to open.

The wood lining and portal timbers inside of the Oneonta Tunnel caught fire, and there are concerns about heat-related damage to the structural shotcrete under the wood. The bluffs on either side of the tunnel continue to drop rocks, and our engineers have been unable to safely determine any additional structural damage.

Once we are able to safely access the inside of the structure and determine what restoration is needed, we will determine the cost to rehabilitate the wood and any additional damage and pursue funding to restore the tunnel.

Thank you for continuing to stay off the Historic Columbia River Highway and State Trail, as well as all the trails closed due to the Eagle Creek Fire.

“A pit in my stomach”: ODOT official shares latest on fire damage to Historic Columbia River Hwy

Avatar by on September 7th, 2017 at 9:34 am

The beautiful Oneonta Tunnel that just re-opened to biking and walking in 2009 isn’t looking so good right now.
(Photo: ODOT)

The Eagle Creek Fire is still raging in the Gorge and we’ve been reaching out to sources to find out how much impact it has had on the Historic Columbia River Highway and State Trail. Just one year ago we joined a big group of riders and dignitaries for a triumphant centennial celebration of the legendary road. And today it feels like it’ll be another hundred years before things are back to normal.

The good news is not all has been lost. Reports yesterday from fire officials were heartening. But what about those pictures of our dear Oneonta Tunnel engulfed in flames?! We’ve been as eager as you to know more.

This morning I heard back from Kristen Stallman, the outgoing Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Transportation. Stallman has worked on the Historic Highway project for years and her connection to it transcends her job title. Here’s what she had to say about where things stand today (emphases mine): [Read more…]

Reflections on the Eagle Creek Fire from ‘Gorge Getaways’ author Laura Foster

Avatar by on September 5th, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Eagle Creek in 2015.
(Photo by Debbie Asakawa)

Laura O. Foster is author of Portland Hill Walks and Columbia Gorge Getaways. She lives in the west hills above Highway 30 north of Sauvie Island. Last summer Foster shared tips on riding the ‘Trail of the Gods’ from Stevenson (WA) to Cascade Locks.

The Columbia Gorge. Three Days Ago. Today.

1:00 a.m. today: The smell of burning forest punched through an already-uneasy sleep. I stepped outside, sniffing, looking through the dark for flames, afraid our land was on fire.
[Read more…]

Ash from Eagle Creek Fire adds to poor air quality in Portland: Is it OK to ride?

Avatar by on September 5th, 2017 at 8:03 am

cycling bad air.jpg

A woman wears a mask while cycling on North Vancouver Avenue this morning.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Rode today with a mask, but some eye protection is needed. My eyes started to itch after a while.”
— Alex Fallenstedt via Twitter

Larch Mountain, Crown Point, Cascade Locks — to people who love to ride bicycles, these places are more than cherished icons of Oregon’s beauty. They are ride destinations and inspirations.

The Eagle Creek Fire that’s still burning out of control in the Columbia River Gorge is having an emotional impact on many of us. People who live and work in the Gorge are struggling right now. And for those of us with emotional bonds to those places forged by hours in the saddle we can only watch in horror as the damage spreads. Even if we could put it out of our minds, the ash falling in Portland makes it impossible to ignore.

That ash has mixed with bad air quality (at hazardous levels last I checked) has many of you wondering if it’s safe to bike in the city. The answer is yes, but…
[Read more…]