What's New

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.

MRT ClosuresParts of the McKenzie River Trail remain closed over the Labor Day Weekend, including the popular Blue Pool, at Tamolitch Falls, due to the Blue Top Fire. U.S. Forest Service fire closure orders remain in place for 6 miles of the McKenzie River Trail as well as the area surrounding Blue Pool and the pool itself. The Forest Service closed the area to protect the public from post-fire hazards: falling snags from the rock face above the pool, intermittent rolling rocks, and holes that appear solid, but are hollow and can cause severe burns to feet and legs. Officials report that when firefighters must escort violators out of the closed area it causes unnecessary delays in their suppression efforts. Security staff are on duty to intercept persons breaching the closure and violation notices will be issued.

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.

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.

EUGENE: Conflicts involving the National Flood Insurance Act and the Endangered Species Act relating to impacts subsidized flood insurance have had on development in floodplains is now being reviewed by Lane County‘s Land Management Division. In a June memo to the board of commissioners, Keir Miller, a senior planner with the Public Works Department, noted the county had been participating in the flood program since 1970.
“The Land Management Division is responsible for administering the day-to-day activities of the county’s floodplain program, which is accomplished primarily through the application of the County’s floodplain regulations,” his memo stated. “These day-to-day activities include the review and issuance of development permits for structures in the floodplain, maintaining building elevation certificates, providing floodplain information and mapping services at the request of property owners, developers and lenders, conducting education and outreach efforts about flood hazards.”

Tamolitch PoolBlue Pool and portion of McKenzie River Trail temporarily closed as firefighters respond to wildfire

MCKENZIE BRIDGE:  Fire crews are responding to the 2-acre Blue Top Fire near Blue Pool and Tamolitch Falls along of the popular McKenzie River Trail (Trail #3507). To protect both the visiting pubic and to allow firefighters to safely manage the fire, the McKenzie River Trail is temporarily closed between the trailhead at Trail Bridge Campground off Forest Road 2600-355 and the trailhead at Carmen Reservoir.

“We realize this is a very popular destination for bikers and hikers.” said Fire Management Officer Randy Harbick. “This closure is in place to protect firefighter and public safety. We will open the McKenzie River Trail and Blue Pool as soon as possible.”

No public access will be permitted to the Blue Bool area. The McKenzie River Trail is still accessible to the west of Trail Bridge Campground and to the east of Carmen Reservoir. Hikers and bikers eager to escape hot valley temperatures and enjoy their national forest are encouraged to explore other beautiful destinations nearby such as Cougar Reservoir or Blue River Reservoir.

BR mapBLUE RIVER: Over a hundred years ago Samuel Sparks dreamed about creating a city. After moving upriver from Cedar Flat in 1895 he acquired a quarter section of land. Fueled by the boom associated with the discovery of gold nearby, he built a cabin and a two-story log house, plus a sawmill, store, hotel and livery stable. By 1911, he and his sons, Dexter and Felix, had surveyed and mapped out a new town tentatively to be called “Sparks City.” But on July 7th of that year, Sparks died, along with his dream.
Today each of the McKenzie River’s nine unincorporated communities have a development density that can’t exceed two-acres. A recently completed study, the “Blue River Downtown Redevelopment & Wastewater Roadmap” could point to ways that limit might change. The study lays out steps for the creation of a community waste-water system and the development of a “downtown district” in Blue River.

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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.