SISTERS, Ore. - The Deschutes National Forest said Friday the Old McKenzie Highway (Oregon Highway 242), which was closed due to the Milli Fire and Separation fires, will remain closed from Sisters to the junction with Highway 126 near McKenzie Bridge to cars and bicycles until all dead and dying "danger trees" with the potential to fall onto the road can be removed and repairs to the road are completed.
Following reviews after the Milli Fire, the Oregon Department of Transportation requested the Forest Service remove the danger trees because the route was unsafe for public travel.
Forest Service employees with specialized training identified trees that burned during the fire which would be a hazard to the highway within three to five years.
Those trees are being removed. Once the trees are removed, repairs to the road will be done.
The Separation Fire on the Willamette National Forest presents the same issues as the Milli Fire for safe public travel on the route and for the Forest Service to respond to ODOT’s request to remove danger trees. Danger trees will be cut and removed to a location accessible to the public for firewood.
The goal of both ODOT and the Forest Service is to open the route as soon as possible while providing for public safety. Depending upon the Forest Service’s ability to remove the danger trees before inclement weather, the route may open in time for over snowmobile travel this winter.