Road 63 Blowout on Mt. Hood

This past Wednesday, Oregonians woke to the shocking images of Highway 30 consumed by a massive mud slide. The images showed the powerful slide pulling homes down with the slope and permanently changing a swath of forest. Had officials from the Oregon Department of Forestry not noticed the potential slide and initiated an evacuation effort within hours of the slide, residents might have lost more than their homes.

This was just one of the several stories of flooding and storm damage around the state. On Tuesday afternoon, we were informed that Road 63 in Mt. Hood National Forest has blown out and collapsed into the Collawash River, near Farm Creek. Added to the list of major roads that have suffered serious road damage from storms in the past, this blowout has currently created an erosion scenario that is transporting substantial sediment and runoff into the Collawash, just a few miles from where it flows into the Clackamas River.

Mt. Hood enthusiasts may recognize Road 63 as the access to Bagby Hot Springs and the wild Bull of the Woods Wilderness. The blowout happened just after the turnoff to Road 70 towards Bagby. Road 63 is now closed just after Fan Creek. Images taken of the blowout show that the road fell from a steep slope and will be very difficult to repair.

This past summer, Barkers conducted a roads inventory in Mt. Hood National Forest to determine the current state of the roads and their risk to important waterways. Logging roads in the nearby area were surveyed and all were noted to have problems of erosion and instability, as well as culverts at risk of being plugged by debris. These are all common problems with the logging road system in Mt. Hood. The backlog of maintenance is more than the Forest Service can keep up with. The result is key access points to recreation are blocked and water quality for fish and for drinking water is degraded because of road failures.

Bark is encouraging the Forest Service to reprioritize their funding away from logging operations, new road building and off-highway vehicle playgrounds, to be able to start fixing our crumbling road system.