There’s flooding in the Umatilla National Forest, what you should know before visiting
PENDLETON, Wash. — Amid a wetter and cooler spring than normal, the Umatilla National Forest has seen rising waters in the region’s creeks, streams and rivers after recent rainfall.
“Whenever we have a considerable amount of rain, particularly coming in the spring time, where we’re already having that winter runoff the big concern that we have is flooding,” Darcy Weseman, a Public Affairs Specialist with the Umatilla National Forest said.
In the recent weeks, two big rain storms have passed over northeast Oregon, sometimes making its way further north, through Walla Walla. The Umatilla National Forest has land in both Washington and Oregon.
Weseman said they also had three significant wildfires on Umatilla National Forest land; that means there’s burn scars, where water is free to keep running because any obstacles (vegetation) have been burnt. Forest officials have been keeping a close eye on those regions, such as the Green Ridge Fire Footprint.
“First area that we did see some flooding issues is actually south of Pilot Rock Oregon and that road did get some damage where there just some road erosion and water running across the roadway,” Darcy said forest officials are now working on an effort to get that road repaired.
If you’re a camper, you’ll want to double check the site you’re visiting hasn’t been affected by flooding.
“We’ve done some monitoring and we’re closely watching the Tucannon Water Shed which is on the Pomeroy Ranger District; flooded the Lady Bug Campground, so we’ve actually had to close that campground, as well as the road right there next to the campground,” she explained.
In the case of the Lady Bug Campground, Darcy said rainfall caused runoff and a large debris flow, which partially blocked the Tucannon River, causing flooding at the campground and Forest Service Road 4712.
“In the same area we also saw some flooding in the Panjab Creek,” she said. The Panjab Campground and trailhead bridge have also been closed due to flooding and debris runoff.
While spring is a bustling and exciting time to visit the forest, Darcy just wants visitors to be prepare.
“I always just encourage people to know before you go, check with our local ranger district office or on our forest website,” she said.
She also encourages visitors to tell people where they’re going, their route, and when they should be back. She said for people going to more rural parts of the forest, they should consider maps that don’t rely on cell service. They’ve also seen snow at popular locations, leading to some search and rescue missions, she advises people to look on their website to check conditions.
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