Labor Day 2020 was an ominous weekend in western Oregon. Multiple uncharacteristically large wildfires swept down river corridors leaving huge swaths of forests and communities burned. One of the largest was the Archie Creek Fire in the North Umpqua Watershed. It burned 131,542 acres across U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and private lands. Tragically, 109 homes were lost in the fire.
While community organizations and government agencies have been helping the homeowners to recover, we at the National Forest Foundation have stepped in to help reopen recreation sites on the Umpqua National Forest. The local communities of Glide and Roseburg rely on the outdoor recreation and tourism economies, and so restoring trails and other recreation sites is extremely important.
Over the past year, thanks to a $100,000 grant from Travel Oregon, we have been working with the Umpqua National Forest to restore and reopen the popular Fall Creek Falls Trail, a one-mile National Recreation Trail. Prior to the Archie Creek Fire, approximately 70,000 people visited Fall Creek Falls annually because it is an approachable hike to a beautiful, two-tiered waterfall, and a great stopover on the way to Crater Lake National Park.
Recovery of the iconic Fall Creek Falls Trail has included several elements, all of which will provide for a safer visitor experience. After the fire, multiple landslides impacted the trail and infrastructure like retaining walls, culverts, bridges, and signs were destroyed. Northwest Youth Corps spent three weeks restoring the trail. The Motley Crew, a local volunteer group, rebuilt a safety fence at the waterfall overlook. Local contractors removed danger trees along the trail and parking lot and built a new trailhead kiosk. None of this would have been possible without the recovery grant from Travel Oregon.
In addition to the work supported by Travel Oregon, the Umpqua National Forest installed a new trail bridge and will be replacing the restroom. The site recently reopened, which was a very positive moment for the local community!
This extensive amount of work to recover just one recreation site highlights how much work is left to be done after the many Labor Day Fires of 2020. We have another fire recovery project happening this fall on the North Umpqua Trail, thanks to a grant from Oregon State Parks. But a lot of work remains. The National Forest Foundation is working closely with the Umpqua, Willamette, and Mt. Hood National Forests to help on this front. If you would like to support our efforts to restore outdoor recreation opportunities in Oregon, you can donate here!