Deschutes National Forest projects get underway
The Deschutes National Forest will temporarily close a road and a campground in the Metolius Basin in order to complete two projects.
The shortest of the two projects will be the installation of a culvert on Forest Road 12, where the road crosses a side channel of First Creek.
From Sept. 10-17, a reroute will be signed using Forest Roads 1217, 1420 and 1425. The reroute will allow for continued access to Forest Road 12, north of the closure, including the roads to Jack Creek Campground, Jack Lake Trailhead, and Cabot Lake Trailhead.
It is anticipated the construction will be complete and the road reopened by Monday, Sept. 17.
In recent years, streams around First Creek have flooded onto Forest Road 12. Installing a larger culvert, with increased capacity, will help prevent the recurring flooding and road damage.
The second project involves the closure of Lower Canyon Creek Campground, including the West Metolius Trailhead, and Forest Roads 1420-400 and 1420-430, which will be closed from Sept. 10 through Oct. 26, in order to reconstruct the campground and address resource damage.
The Lower Canyon Creek Riparian Restoration Project will reconstruct a portion of the campground, including the access road and trailhead parking to reduce negative impacts to the Metolius River.
The redesign will include moving the access road and parking lot farther from the Metolius River and Canyon Creek, relocating trailhead parking and replacing the current toilet with an ADA-accessible toilet. The newly reconstructed site will provide for easier trailhead parking, greater accessibility at the site and less sediment deposited into to the river.
It is anticipated the construction will be complete and the area reopened to the public by Friday, Oct. 26. During the closure, hikers are encouraged to access the Metolius Trail from Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery on Forest Road 14.
The Metolius River is a designated National Wild and Scenic River. The current condition of the road and campsite locations leads to surface runoff, sedimentation and trampling of riparian vegetation affecting important spawning habitat for bull trout, a federally listed species. The campground renovations will help improve those conditions, while still providing for scenic camping, hiking and fishing on the Metolius.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The act, signed by Congress in 1968, preserves designated rivers that have outstanding natural, cultural and recreation values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
The Act protects 12,724 miles of 208 rivers, which is less than one-quarter of 1 percent of streams or rivers in the United States. Approximately 29 miles of the Metolius River was designated in 1988 by Congress for many outstanding remarkable values, such as cultural importance, fisheries and scenery.