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Ice storm damage to Willamette Valley parks will take weeks, months to clean up

Downed trees and a path with signs for parks and a milepost marker.
Kelly Shadwick
Eugene Parks & Open Space
The ice storm caused a number of trees to fall and branches to break in Eugene's parks, especially in undeveloped areas like the Ridgeline trail.

Eugene parks are open, but caution is urged

Officials ask people to be very careful when on park paths.

Kelly Shadwick with Eugene Parks and Open Space said they haven’t yet been able to scout the less-developed parks, including Ridgeline, Skinner Butte, Hendricks Park and Delta Ponds. She said many trails are still blocked by fallen trees.

“While parks are open, it is not a good time to be entering parks,” Shadwick said. “And if people do enter the parks, we ask that they just really be aware of their surroundings, look up, be aware that there are likely hanging limbs around them and to just use extreme caution.”

Eugene public works has cleared the city’s bike paths of tree branches and debris.

Citywide, parks and maintenance teams are focused on clearing trees and branches from the transportation system.

“There are about a dozen locations where some electrical wires may still be involved,” Shadwick said. “So we are working really closely with EWEB and our city’s urban forestry team and they are going together to these sites to resolve those issues.”

Shadwick said they believe they lost a significant number of trees in the parks system from the ice storm. She said it will take weeks, even months, to address all of the damage.

Willamalane Park and Recreation District in Springfield is still closed

Willamalane is asking the public to stay out of parks while crews clean up after last week’s ice storm. The agency said there is significant damage at parks, paths, trails, natural areas, and parking lots.

Crews are clearing access routes, addressing property damage, and removing hazards such as hanging or leaning trees and branches.

The agency asks the public to steer clear of workers in the parks who are using heavy machinery like wood chippers and chainsaws to clean up debris.

Willamalane parks staff clearing Willamalane Park Swim Center parking lot after ice storm ice storm parks damage
Willamalane Parks
Willamalane parks staff clearing Willamalane Park Swim Center parking lot after ice storm ice storm parks damage

Volunteer Support

Willamalane says volunteer efforts will be crucial to park clean-up work. The Northwest Youth Corps adult crew has already been assisting with efforts at Island Park. Those interested in joining a volunteer event, can sign up as a Willamalane volunteer at willamalane.org/volunteer.

In a news release, Willamalane says it's "grateful for the community's understanding and cooperation during this critical phase of cleanup and restoration. These efforts are crucial to ensuring community well-being and creating a safe environment within parks.”

Many Lane County Parks are still closed

The following Lane County Parks in the Willamette Valley will likely remain closed through next week due to the aftermath of the recent ice storm, according to the county.

Archie Knowles, Armitage, Baker Bay, Bellinger Landing, Big River, Blue Mountain Park, Camp Lane, Cinderella, Deadmonds Ferry Landing, Deerhorn Landing, Eagle Rock, Forest Glen Landing, Greenwood Landing, Hamlin, Hayden Bridge, Helfrich Landing, Hendricks Bridge, Hileman, Howard Buford Recreation Area (Mt. Pisgah), Howard J. Morton, Kinney, LaSells Stewart, Leaburg Dam Boat Slide, Leaburg Landing, Osgood/Unity, Peaceful Valley, Rennie's Landing, Rodakowski Landing, Siuslaw Falls, Tide, Vickery, Wildwood Falls.

The extensive damage includes downed power lines, fallen trees, and hazardous conditions that require thorough assessment and cleanup by our maintenance teams. Lane County's dedicated crews are on the ground, starting the extensive assessment and cleanup process. For public safety and to give crews time and space to complete the necessary assessment and clean up process, the county asks people to please not enter parks.

State Parks

As of Jan. 23, the following state parks in Lane County remain closed "due to extensive down trees and hazardous conditions," according to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department:

Elijah Bristow State Park
Jasper State Recreation Site

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.