Additional trails reopen in Gorge for first time since Eagle Cre - KPTV - FOX 12

Additional trails reopen in Gorge for first time since Eagle Creek Fire

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COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OR (KPTV) -

Additional trails have reopened in the Columbia River Gorge for the first time since the Eagle Creek Fire.

The U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday that the Pacific Crest Trail, Benson State Park and several trails in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness east of Cascade Locks are again open to the public.

The newly reopened trails are inside areas that burned during last year’s Eagle Creek Fire. People going to those areas are advised to be aware that the ground may be unstable, particularly in areas where understory plants burned away.

It is illegal for hikers to venture off the reopened trails, even to cut between open trails. Offenders can be cited and fined.

“Staying on the trail is not only important for safety, it helps protect the ecosystem's ability to recover after a fire. Bare soil is susceptible to invasive species, and those traveling off trail could create soil compaction that causes lasting damage,” according to then Forest Service.

Most of Wyeth Trail #411, although it is east of Cascade Locks, remains closed indefinitely due to heavy damage from Eagle Creek Fire.

All National Forest System trails between Angels Rest and the Pacific Crest Trail also remain closed due to heavy damage sustained from the fire.

Many of these trails are still being assessed and repaired, and in many cases have continued to sustain ongoing damage due to rockfall, falling trees, and landslides.

Six miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway between Ainsworth and Bridal Veil have been closed since last Sept. 4 because of the fire. The Oregon Department of Transportation has no timeline for re-opening. 

People heading to the Gorge are asked to check the closure map and respect all closure signs and barriers.

For a full list of Eagle Creek Fire closures, go to bit.ly/eaglecreekfireresponse

The Eagle Creek Fire began Sept. 2, 2017 and burned more than 48,000 acres. The Vancouver teen responsible for starting it with fireworks was ordered last month to pay more than $36 million in restitution.

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