Forest Service busy cleaning up trails in Columbia River Gorge a - KPTV - FOX 12

Forest Service busy cleaning up trails in Columbia River Gorge after stormy winter

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A stormy winter in the Columbia River Gorge made quite a mess of the scenic area's popular trail system.

The task of clearing fallen trees and debris blocking trails falls to Dawn Stender and a crew of three seasonal employees.

"The challenge here is that we're in the wilderness. What that means is no chainsaws, so crosscut saws only," said Stender, trail supervisor for the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

Stender said nearly every trail in the system suffered weather damage, during a winter that featured unusually heavy snow and rain.

"A lot of precipitation, a lot of snow. So the thing that we're running into this season is landslides and washouts," said Stender.

Damage from the winter storms also extended to campgrounds, where Stender and her crew are removing debris and cutting down hazardous trees.

At the popular Oneonta Gorge, meanwhile, a recent flash flood created a log jam, leading the Forest Service to close off access to the area.

For hikers who venture out this time of year, Stender urges caution, since some slopes are still unstable and could shift.

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