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Across Oregon, many areas damaged by 2020 wildfires re-opened

An area north of Vida where the Holiday Farm Fire swept through in September, 2020.
Brian Bull
An area north of Vida where the Holiday Farm Fire swept through in September, 2020.

As of late last week, a number of areas burned during the Holiday Farm Fire have been re-opened. But officials still urge caution.

The Bureau of Land Management has ended temporary closures on public lands affected by the 2020 wildfire.

Rebecca Brooke is the field manager of the Upper Willamette Field Office for the BLM. She told KLCC that crews have finished their post-fire work in the re-opened areas, but people still need to be wary.

Bureau of Land Management

“Everything is loose. The soil’s loose, the trees are weakened after the fire,” explained Brooke. “Burned trees are weaker than green trees. So folks do need to watch out when they’re in the burned area.

“Windy days are especially dangerous and folks need to be looking up for falling branches and being aware of their surroundings.”

Brooke said downed trees and foliage can also create hazards in waterways, so boaters and anglers need to be careful.

The BLM has crews out planting trees in affected areas, to replace ones killed or damaged beyond recovery. This will also help control erosion in vulnerable areas.

“We are ramping up a huge reforestation effort following this fire,” said Brooke. “We planted about 1,200 acres this year, and we’re currently planning to double that next year to almost 3,000 acres. And that’ll be increasing for the next several years as we try to replant after these devastating fires.”

Some other areas like the gravel portions of Goodpasture Road and Mt. Hagen Road will remain closed for several more months.

Meanwhile, over 900 acres of the Santiam State Forest are re-opening, though Shellburg Falls and the High Lakes Recreation Area remain closed due to fire damage.

The 2020 wildfire season was officially the worst in state history. 1.2 million acres were burned by 2,027 fires, and over 4,000 buildings – including residences – were destroyed. 11 people died.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ 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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