Assessing the damage of the Pole Creek fire

Crews work to restore Whychus Creek watershed

POSTED: 10:29 PM PST November 13, 2012 
BEND, Ore. -

A lot of questions about the aftermath of the Pole Creek fire prompted the Sisters Ranger District to conduct an informational open house Tuesday night.

For two hours, foresters and experts answered questions and a wide range of topics from defensible space to forest restoration.

A big focus of restoration efforts is in the Whychus Creek watershed.

"We're trying to mitigate any effects we may have with the fire downstream," said soil scientist Terry Craigg.

In the past, the watershed has been the focus of several environmental projects, including restoring salmon runs in the Deschutes River Basin and water for farming.

Crews are working to reduce the effects of runoff from coming winter storms.

"We are trying to bring some of the roadbeds down and armor them," said Craigg, "so when they do over-top with water, they won't take the whole road system out and put a lot of sediment in the creek."

Craig says ideally, crews would like to replace culverts with much larger ones, to handle more runoff this fall and when the snow melts in the spring.

In the meantime, several roads and trails have been closed as crews work. Click here for a closure list.

When firefighters were working to put out the fire, they chipped trees and limbs taken out to build fire line. Crews then stockpiled it in the forest for later use.

"We're going to use a helicopter here in the next week or two to apply that to some of the slope above Whychus Creek, in critical areas where sediment can move right into the creek," said Craigg.

With crews racing against Mother Nature, they hope she'll hold off long enough for them to protect the watershed and what lies downstream.