The Camp Creek Fire Has Closed the Sandy Ridge Trail System and Continues to Threaten Bull Run

The premier mountain biking destination is simply too close to the blaze.

If your Labor Day weekend plans include a visit to the network of Sandy Ridge recreation trails—one of the state’s premier mountain biking destinations—you’ll need to pick another location.

On Aug. 31, the Bureau of Land Management announced it had closed the site approximately 40 miles east of Portland just off of Highway 26 due to its proximity to the Camp Creek Fire. That blaze is centered about 10 miles northeast of the city of Sandy in the Mount Hood National Forest.

Public access is temporarily cut off to both the 17 miles of trails in the Sandy Ridge area as well as the parking lot, which will be used by firefighters as a base to store equipment and organize. The BLM added that excessive smoke was also hazardous to any would-be cyclists in the area.

“As with any wildland fire, our highest priority is firefighter and public safety,” Cascades field manager Amanda Hoffman stated in a press release. “Closing the Sandy Ridge recreation site is a necessary step to protect recreators and firefighters while there is an active fire in the area.”

A lightning strike sparked the Camp Creek Fire on Aug. 24. It has since charred 1,969 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, and at this point is considered zero percent contained. The blaze is a priority since it is burning in the Bull Run Watershed—Portland’s main drinking water supply. The fire is just over a mile from one of the reservoirs and less than 2 miles from a treatment facility.

Rain and calmer wind conditions helped firefighting efforts today. The National Interagency Fire Center described the blaze’s most recent behavior as “moderate.” However, flames continue to be fueled by both the tree canopy and a dense build up of fallen branches and needles on the forest floor.

The Portland Water Bureau is keeping a close eye on the situation and coming up with multiple plans of action in case it needs to move employees out of the affected area or possibly even shut off access to water from Bull Run. In that scenario, the agency would be dependent on groundwater to supply the city.

“We are very lucky to have two high-quality water sources, and right now we are able to utilize both of them to meet our water needs,” Gabriel Solmer, Water Bureau director, stated in a press release. “Should that change—should we be unable to use the Bull Run water supply—we would need to rely on our groundwater system alone. Groundwater is an excellent water source, but it cannot meet our full summer demand without a reduction in water use. In that case we would ask for help from our customers to reduce water use so we can continue to meet essential needs.”

Since the fire broke out, the Water Bureau has been shoring up its water supply by using Bull Run water and groundwater from the Columbia South Shore Well Field. That move was intended to help meet the increased need typically seen during late summer.

Meanwhile, a fast-moving fire that caused Oregon State Parks and Recreation to evacuate Cottonwood Canyon State Park, 48 miles southeast of The Dalles, is considered out and the campground is back open.

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