SALEM, Ore— Oregon State Parks’ crews worked hard to clear hazard trees and downed trees from park entrances and trails this week after a windstorm delivered gusts of up to 75 miles per hour.
The clean-up work is ongoing and could impact access to trails and facilities, but it is not expected to impact First Day Hikes Jan. 1. Park staff encourage visitors to be cautious and follow these safety tips:
- Stay clear of downed trees. They can be under tension and spring up unexpectedly to cause injury or death.
- Do not climb on downed trees. Sometimes they are held in place by only a strand of bark or a few fibers.
- Trees and debris may be unexpectedly blocking access to recreational features, trails or facilities. Please be patient, follow all posted signs and make safe choices.
- If it continues to rain, more damage could occur including fallen trees on trails.
- Service levels in restroom facilities, garbage collection and beach access obstruction removal can be reduced during cleanup. Please be patient.
High wind and rain resulted in power outages and flooding at parks across the state earlier in the week. At least nine parks closed or partially closed, 10 lost power and at least 17 experienced weather-related damage. Power was restored to all parks by Thursday afternoon.
Four parks remained closed or partially closed Friday due to weather-related clean up or flooding:
- Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area campground is closed until Jan. 5 due to flooding.
- Sarah Helmick State Recreation Site is closed due to flooding.
- Willamette Mission State Park is partially closed due to flooding. Access to the lower park from the main entrance and by the trail from Matheny Road is closed.
- Nehalem Bay State Park has several campsites that are closed due to downed trees.
At Cape Meares and Cape Lookout, crews cleared more than a dozen trees, including a hemlock that was nearly 4 feet in diameter and leaning at a 45-degree angle across the road. It was one of the hazards that closed Cape Meares until Thursday.
“The staff did a great job triaging what needed to be taken care of and working hard to get it completed,” said Park Manager Jason Elkins.
“Visitors may encounter debris when they are visiting our parks as we “dig out” from the storm. Please report any trees that are blocking trails to park staff.”
Downed trees also destroyed the pedestrian bridge across Necarney Creek at Oswald West State Park, which connects visitors to the south side of the beach. The primary beach access point is still accessible. There will likely be more closures and impacts reported as staff assess the rest of the trails. Hazardous waves also closed the south jetty at South Beach State Park.
The Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon also experienced high winds. Silver Falls State Park lost power Tuesday and had to close its trails due to high winds and hazard trees. Crews cleared five trees that blocked Highway 214 and about 10 from park trails. The trails are now open, but crews are still working to clear the debris in some sections.
At Valley of the Rogue in Southern Oregon, nearly 15 trees came down in the windstorm Monday night. A downed tree smashed two vehicles and a privacy fence at the campground.
OPRD surveys its trees for potential hazards. But heavy rain and wind is a tough combination even for healthy trees, said Park Manager Nathan Seable. The soil can get saturated, and trees blow over with the roots and all.
He recommends not visiting forested areas during high wind events. And if you’re in a campground, he said, alert a ranger immediately if you see a tree that looks unstable or a tree limb that is broken off and hanging.
Park staff also encourage visitors to use caution when visiting after a storm and to be patient with crews as they work to restore services and access as soon and as safely as possible. Visitors can also check the status of parks before visiting at stateparks.oregon.gov. Click on the alerts on the right-hand side of the page.