GATES, OR -- It’s been nearly two years since wildfire devastated the Santiam State Forest, but recovering from the Labor Day fires of 2020 has been a slow process. Jason Cox, with the Oregon Department of Forestry, says 925 more acres reopened Monday, following a lot of clean-up and repair work, "Not only in some areas did the trees burn, but the actual ground-level soil that sort of constitutes a trail burned up. And so, they actually had to rebuild some of these trails down to the rock layer underneath the trails." The newly reopened areas are within the Packsaddle block, north of Highway 22, near the town of Gates.
Cox says more than 13,000 acres remain closed, including some of the Santiam’s most popular recreation areas, "In some cases, road culverts, which run under the roads, were destabilized by the fire and so you could drive over an unstable area of road and never know you were doing that. The more popular recreation areas also had more trails that needed to be restored."
More than 16,000 acres were impacted by fire in 2020 inside the 47,000 acre Santiam State Forest. For more on reopening timelines and clean-up progress, visit the Santiam State Forest Recovery Site.