Following significant work to reduce hazard trees within the Pole Creek Fire closure area, much of the area will reopen to the public Thursday, the Deschutes National Forest announced.
On Thursday, a more limited "Roads Restriction" order will replace the current "Closure Area" order within the area burned by the Pole Creek Fire, which scorched more than 26,000 acres last fall.
The "Roads Restriction" order eliminates the "Closure Area" order and allows the public to enter much of the area for summer recreation. However, officials say public safety will still be served while the Forest Service continues to remove hazard trees along some roads.
Because of the critical need to protect severely burned portions of the Three Sisters Wilderness, the public will be allowed to enter the wilderness area; however, they will be required to travel only on designated trails under the closure.
Areas off designated Forest Service trails will be closed. Off-trail travel and dispersed camping in the area will be limited, at least through this summer and fall.
Due to the high burn severity of the fire within the Three Sisters Wilderness, the Forest Service wants to give the soils and vegetation continued rest this year.
Previous burns, like the B&B fire in 2003, have demonstrated that additional rest for soils and vegetation within severely burned areas has long-term benefits for the recovery of the area.
"We realize the closure within the Three Sisters Wilderness will impact the public's enjoyment of the area this year, but we hope the public can appreciate the need to protect resources within the Wilderness Area, "said Kristie Miller, Sisters District ranger. "Forest Service employees and volunteers will be working this summer to reduce erosion, protect vegetation and reclaim trails within the Wilderness Area."
A modest buffer from the center line of designated trails will allow wilderness visitors to take breaks without breaking compliance with the order.
The order only applies to the portions of the wilderness area burned by the Pole Creek fire.
For more information about the Pole Creek fire closure changes please contact Kristie Miller, Sisters District Ranger, at 541-549-7700. Or go to the Deschutes National Forest website: www.fs.usda.gov/centraloregon.