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Waterways In Fire Zones Potentially Dangerous For Boaters, Warn Forest Officials

Brian Bull

Summer may be waning, but river boating and other recreational activities are still going strong. But officials want people to be careful, especially in areas affected by wildfires.

Even if a fire’s contained and largely mopped-up, damage to the surrounding trees and landscape can mean unstable terrain.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Ed Hiatt, Interagency Fire Staff Officer for Northwest Oregon, at Olallie Campground along the banks of the McKenzie River.  Burned terrain from the Knoll Fire can be viewed on the opposite bank.

In the case of the McKenzie River, the Oregon State Marine Board has announced closures. That includes the Olallie Campground, where the Knoll Fire has caused trees and boulders to fall in.

Nonetheless, a woman floated by on her inflatable kayak, headed downriver. 

"Be safe!" I called out.

"Yeah, okay, thank you," she replied.

Ed Hiatt, Interagency Fire Staff Officer for Northwest Oregon, looked on.

“Well, as any of these trees burn out at the base, the roots become weak. Some of them will fall into the river when they’re close to the edge, and that creates a river hazard for boaters.”

The Oregon State Marine Board and state forests both encourage boaters to check current closures and hazards on their websites.

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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