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Blue Pool/TamolitchMCKENZIE BRIDGE: The portions of the McKenzie River Trail that lead to Tamolitch Falls, commonly known as Blue Pool will reopen to the public on Thursday, September 8th. However, due to continued fire-related safety concerns, portions east of Blue Pool and the fire area remain closed - including Forest Service Roads 740 and 743. Officials said road work was completed Sunday on Forest Service Road 655 at the trailhead near Trail Bridge Campground and Carmen Reservoir. Parking is only allowed on the right side of the trailhead parking area near the Trail Bridge Campground.
“Now that the Blue Top Fire is safely contained away from the McKenzie River Trail, we have determined it is safe to re-open that section of trail,” said Terry Baker, McKenzie River District Ranger. “I really appreciate everyone’s patience during the closure.”

MRT rerouteMCKENZIE BRIDGE: Under plans approved in May, the McKenzie River Ranger District will relocate portions of the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail near Smith Reservoir. Parts of the existing trail were originally constructed in areas that officials determined were too steep, didn’t incorporate effective drainage, or were un-sustainable. Problems included erosion that might accelerate over time causing a variety of adverse impacts to the trails and environment, including damage which makes trails unsafe to use and increased turbidity in adjacent water systems. In addition, two bridges will be replaced.
The work plan calls for the new sections to be constructed by hand (no heavy equipment), though motorized tools may be used at times. Crews will remove brush and construct a tread from 18 to 22 inches wide). Unsustainable portions of the trail would be decommissioned and naturalized following completion of the proposed reroutes. Another part of the works will use water bars  to remove running water off of the tread.
The entrance and exit points of the old trail would be hidden by debris to discourage use.
Comments on the proposed action were accepted from April 8th to May 6th of 2016. No comments, either in support or opposed, were received.

Lane County’s Waste Management Division is seeking public input on its update to the regional Solid Waste Management Plan, including potential strategies to increase waste diversion from the landfill.

The ultimate goal of the updated management plan is to develop a waste management system that is environmentally sound, technologically feasible, cost-effective, locally controlled and publicly acceptable, while providing for an overall reduction in waste generation. There are two ways for community members to provide feedback:

Renee JacksonEUGENE: “I’ve talked to our customers and they’re willing to pay for recycling in order not to have the dumps close,” McKenzie Disposal employee Renee Jackson told the Lane County Board of Commissioners  last Wednesday. She also encouraged the board to look closer at the costs of recycling, which currently is offered as a discount.
Up for discussion was a plan that included the possible closure of eight of the county’s 16 waste transfer stations. On that list was the McKenzie Bridge site.
Currently, people who haul their own trash can get a $1 discount for recycling things like glass, cardboard or metal. Jackson felt estimates on the amount the county could gain by eliminating the discount could be off.  Although 148 people got the discount at the McKenzie Bridge site in June, she noted there are no records to show how many people went to there to simply drop off their recyclables. She told the board they needed to “generate funds because there is a cost” to the recycling process.

Blue Pool AccessMCKENZIE BRIDGE: Due to increased fire danger levels, the Willamette National Forest placed public use restrictions on campfires and chainsaws starting on Monday.
“We understand this is an inconvenience for our visitors but fire danger levels prompt us to issue these restrictions” said Sean Stafford, Fire Staff for the Willamette National Forest.
Except in campfire rings at posted, developed and designated recreation areas building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, stove or campfire are now restricted.
Smoking, too, is affected except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while in an area at least three feet in diameter that is cleared of all flammable material.
In addition, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, stove or campfire, including a charcoal fire, in the Middle Santiam Wilderness and Menagerie  areas is not allowed.

Sheep Creek bridgeHWY. 20: A project to create five-and-a-half miles of new road, bypassing a 10-mile section of the original U.S. 20 that was built in 1917, is now underway.
Through the end of September, travelers on U.S. 20 should expect detours on the west and east sides of Interstate 5 due to construction road closures just west of Eddyville (west) and 26 miles east of Sweet Home at the Sheep Creek Bridge (east).
ODOT officials say the U.S 20 Sheep Creek Bridge closure will last through the end of September. The highway is fully closed from milepost 54 to 56.9 while the bridge is out. There is no local detour.
Eastbound travelers are now taking OR 20 from Lebanon to OR 226 to OR 22, or OR 126 from Springfield.
Westbound travelers should take OR 22 to OR 226, or OR 126 from Santiam Junction.

Image: Photo Courtesy ODOT. Until about 2010, the earth movement at the Sheep Creek Bridge was measured at approximately one inch per year.  For the past four years, however, the movement has increased to six to seven inches per year.

Willamette National Forest – Campfires and use of chainsaws limited beginning Monday, August 22, at 12:01am

Due to increased fire danger levels, the Willamette National Forest will initiate the following public use restrictions on campfires and chainsaw effective 12:01 am on Monday, August 22nd:
1. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, stove or campfire, including a charcoal fire, in the Menagerie and Middle Santiam Wilderness areas.

ODF logoHIGH TEMPERATURES, LOW HUMIDITY AND GUSTY WINDS

The heat is on! A wave of hot dry windy weather is expected to hit the region Thursday and last through Saturday. Just a single spark under these conditions could lead to a significant and costly wildfire. Fire managers are reminding the public to be extra careful with fire as they seek ways to stay cool.

Dump chartClosing the dump sites is not about bucks,” Dennis Powers of McKenzie Bridge reminded the Lane County Board of Commissioners at their meeting last Tuesday. “Highway 126 is a heavily traveled beautiful area,” he noted. “A lot of dollars come into Lane County because of this.”
Powers observations were part of the messages McKenzie area residents had for the board to consider before deciding whether to approve a consultant’s report that in part recommends the closure of eight of the county’s 16 waste transfer stations. The closures were expected to help the county offset a $1.5 million annual waste management deficit.
Also opposed to the closure of the McKenzie Bridge transfer site was Marilynn Cross of Nimrod, a former consultant herself who wondered about missing data. “What are the costs of diminishing services in our rural communities?” she asked, adding that “cost” was mentioned in only two places of the 43 pages of the report she’d reviewed. Cross predicted increased costs of travel for people hauling their own garbage as well as higher rates for those contracting with local hauler, McKenzie Disposal.

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.