Forest staff continues to clear debris from Labor Day windstorm
Many experienced power outages and property damage after the windstorm that rocked the region on Labor Day. Like several of the Mount Hood area's residents, staff with the Mt. Hood National Forest are still working to recover.
"The western side the Mt. Hood National Forest suffered extensive and severe damage as a result of the historic Labor Day windstorm that brought down tens of thousands of trees and fueled wildfires across the Cascades," Forest Service staff said in a statement this week. "After weeks of work, most trails outside of wilderness on Zigzag Ranger District have been cleared of fallen logs, but visitors should continue to be aware of existing hazards such as fallen trees, hanging branches, loose rocks, and unstable slopes."
Several trails in the Mt. Hood Wilderness are still blocked or damaged by debris from the storm, most notably, the Timberline and Pacific Crest trails. Thousands of trees remain down on those popular hiking areas. In order to preserve "the Wilderness character," crews must use crosscut saws and other non-mechanized tools to clear debris, but these tools are slower than power tools such as chainsaws.
"Forest Service crews, joined by our partners, Pacific Crest Trail Association and Trailkeepers of Oregon, have been working tirelessly to clear trails," said Zigzag District Ranger, Bill Westbrook. "However, we only have a few more weeks before winter weather ends the work season, so many areas will not be cleared until late spring or summer of 2021."
Though there is still much work to be done, there are some recreation areas open and accessible by foot only, including Trillium Lake and Old Maid Flat. These areas remain closed to vehicles. Forest Service staff ask that "If there is no available safe and legal parking, please visit an alternate location."
All campgrounds on the forest are also closed now for the season.
"Please use extreme caution when out on the Forest, including looking up into the tree-cover above and the forest floor for unusual obstacles and hazards, and check the weather report to confirm safe conditions," Forest Service staff warned. "Take special care at stream crossings in case railings or trail bridges suffered damage from fall and winter storms. While driving on Forest roads, beware of fallen trees and other debris, and branches extending over the roadway."
For more information and a complete list of recreation sites on the Zigzag Ranger District visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/zigzag.
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