Wildfires burned hundreds of thousands of acres on the Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests, as well as other areas across Western Oregon in 2020. Within those burned areas were hundreds of miles of trails, dozens of campgrounds, boat launches, and other recreation sites that have been closed. Expanding upon the existing work to rebuild trails after the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge, the NFF has begun to work with other National Forests in Oregon to help reopen recreation sites after wildfires.

Photo from the 2020 Riverside Fire (credit: U.S. Forest Service)

NFF has created a new position, the Oregon Recreation Projects Coordinator, to manage these new projects, and Jeff Malik joined the staff in that role earlier in 2023. One of the first projects Jeff will be involved with is the reconstruction of the Rainbow Campground and the adjacent Riverside Trail, both located on the Clackamas River Ranger District of the Mt. Hood National Forest.

This area was previously characterized by the Riverside Trail winding through these groves of old-growth forest, connecting the Riverside and Rainbow Campgrounds while providing access to the Clackamas River. Located less than two hours from Portland, these rustic campgrounds were popular as they provided access to nearby trails and swimming holes and were a well-used destination by many.

Two and a half years after the Riverside Fire, large sections of the Clackamas River District are still closed. However, hazardous tree removal and road work has now progressed enough to rebuild other types of infrastructure. Thanks to funding from Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory and the Forest Service, NFF will hire contractors to begin work on the Riverside Trail and Rainbow Campground later in 2023. These two sites will be reopened in 2024 and will be the first of many recreation sites in wildfire-affected areas that NFF will help rebuild across Oregon.

National Forest Foundation