Marion County is temporarily restricting access and closing parks along the Little North Fork Santiam River corridor. Today, the Board of Commissioners approved two orders that will restrict public access to North Fork, Gates Hill, and Pioneer Roads to property owners and their guests, contractors, and agents. The county is additionally closing North Fork Park, Salmon Falls Park, and Bear Creek Park and Campground and the corridor will be closed to bicyclists and non-resident pedestrians.
Public and private lands around the Little North Fork Santiam River basin were heavily damaged during the September 2020 Beachie Creek and Lionshead wildfires. The closures are meant to support rebuilding and reconstruction of wildfire damaged properties.
Commissioner Danielle Bethell said, "These restrictions are meant to protect people from hazards in the North Fork corridor. We understand there will be frustration from the public; however, we have to do what is right and safe for everyone. We hope people will have understanding and grace through the rebuilding process." She continued, "For the time being we're encouraging people to explore Oregon's other amazing parks and recreational opportunities."
Public Works anticipates it will take approximately 18 months to restore wildfire damaged roads and two to three years to fully rebuild county parks. Marion County parks sustained considerable damage with the near total destruction of vegetation and park amenities and it remains unsafe to enter the parks due to the large number of dead and standing trees that can fall with little or no warning.
A large volume of woody debris, both floating and submerged, is moving down the watershed on a daily basis making it unsafe for the public to enter the Little North Fork Santiam River at this time.
Marion County Public Works will post road signs on North Fork, Gates Hill, and Pioneer Roads notifying the public of the restricted access. Signs are expected to be in place within the next month. Additional restrictions include:
- No parking and no bicyclists within the North Fork, Gates Hill and Pioneer Road rights-of-way.
- No recreational access to the Little North Fork Santiam River from North Fork Road, Gates Hill Road, Pioneer Road, North Fork Park, Salmon Falls Park or Bear Creek Park and Campground.
We appreciate the public's partnership as we begin the process of making our beautiful North Fork corridor safe for residents and visitors.