Road reconstruction, tree removal to reduce risk and restore access
Detroit, Ore. – Oct. 13, 2023 — The Willamette National Forest will begin much-needed road reconstruction projects this month to remove hazards and repair portions of the transit system damaged in recent years by wildfires. The multi-phase emergency response project in the Detroit Ranger District will extend into 2024 and will repair sections of Forest Service Road (FR) 46, French Creek Road (FR 2223) and Whitewater Road (FR 2243), among others.
The 2020 Beachie Creek and Lionshead fires burned approximately 40% of the Detroit Ranger District and left nearly 200 miles of fire-damaged roads in need of major repairs. The first phase of the disaster-recovery project will include road work along 36 miles of the Detroit Ranger District transit system. FR 46, part of the West Cascades National Scenic Byway, will have periodic delays later this fall. The Forest Service will provide public notice of any delay or closure on FR 46 two weeks in advance. The French Creek and Whitewater repair projects will be in an existing closure area.
Disaster response crews and heavy equipment operators will work to reduce the risks of hazardous fuels, as well as overhead and up-slope hazards that have fallen across roadways or remain standing along important travel routes. The extensive roads project will include risk-mitigation of fire-damaged trees, roadside fuel reduction, and essential maintenance and road reconstruction so that access to and through the fire-burned areas can be safely restored.
Forest Service crews also continue to mitigate safety hazards at fire-impacted recreational sites and trails as the Detroit Ranger District brings in advanced tree fallers from other Forest Service units to help remove dead and damaged trees in recreational areas.
“We understand that people are eager to visit their favorite places,” said Detroit District Ranger Michelle King. “These major improvement projects will help us provide workers and visitors with safe access to our forest roads and recreation sites into the future.”
Areas that will remain closed this year include McCoy Road (FR 2233), Boulder Road (FR 2231), South Breitenbush Road (FR 4685), and Opal Creek (FR 2209 and FR 2207).
Visitors are encouraged to Know Before You Go and exercise caution on nearby roadways that may have heavy truck and equipment traffic. To check the status of a location before entering the Forest, please visit Willamette National Forest – Alerts & Notices (usda.gov)
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