Oregon forest products operators are facing more challenges thanks to the indefinite closure of key state highway transportation routes that connect the high Cascades and central Oregon with key log markets in the Willamette Valley. The closures are just the latest impact of the tragic and historically disastrous forest fires and firestorms that hammered the state in early to mid September.
Damage from the fires is likely to cause transportation issues for months as highway crews assess damage to pavement, infrastructure and bridges and make repairs. Steep scorched areas adjacent roadways are also placing miles and miles of highway under landslide risk as the wet fall and winter get under way.
A key closure is Highway 22 for 60 miles from near Lyons to the Hwy 20 junction. According to news reports, hundreds of thousands of trees will need to be removed from Hwy. 22, which was severely impacted by the almost 200,000 acre Beachie Creek Fire east of Salem. The highway is a key corridor between Salem and Bend. Another big closure is 73 miles along Oregon highways 126 and 242 between Bend and the Eugene-Springfield area. Oregon Hwy. 138 that connects Roseburg and central Oregon is also closed from Glide to Crater Lake National Park. By mid September, more than 300 miles of highways in the state were closed due to fire damage or risk.