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Wildfire to keep Mt. Jefferson peak closed through eclipse

So will all trails to Jefferson (Jeff) Park

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Due to the 5,515-acre Whitewater fire, the Willamette and Deschutes national forests said Tuesday they have closed a portion of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area, including the 10,495-foot peak of Mt. Jefferson.

All Willamette National Forest trails that access popular destinations like Jefferson (Jeff) Park and the Mount Jefferson peak are closed for the foreseeable future, including for the eclipse, the agencies announced.

With the northern section of the Wilderness area closure in the path of totality for the Aug, 21 solar eclipse, visitors should make alternate plans for viewing this event, officials said.

From the east, Deschutes National Forest eclipse-viewing destinations that are now closed include Rockpile Lake, Cabot Lake, Carl Lake, Shirley Lake and Table Mountain. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Minto Pass north to Breitenbush Lake is closed, PCT hikers will need to reroute. These closures will be in place until rescinded.

With changing conditions, the public is reminded to have alternate plans to view the solar eclipse and to KNOW BEFORE YOU GO. The web page at http://go.usa.gov/xNJaZ contains a series of maps that show adjacent National Forest lands that are currently open and lie in the path of totality of the eclipse. Visitors may want to consider these nearby sites to view the eclipse. For further information about the continued closure, contact (541) 912-7548.

“We understand this is a disappointment to residents and visitors who looked forward to the opportunity to experience the eclipse in this area. Unfortunately, the risk is too great, and our highest responsibility must be visitor safety,” said Forest Supervisor Tracy Beck.

“Fueled by the excessively hot conditions of the previous weeks, this fire has burned very erratically and some nights has moved more than a mile through thick forests.”

The size of the closure reflects the unpredictable fire behavior that fire managers witnessed during the recent hot spell. The Whitewater Fire remains at zero percent containment, and officials have said it might not be fully out until Halloween.

To protect the public, all trails leading into the closed area will be staffed 24 hours a day to inform visitors and enforce the closure. Given the weather forecast and already dry forest conditions, the fire could continue to grow and additional closures could take place.

State officials predict thousands of travelers will visit Oregon to experience the eclipse on public lands. Expect crowds, traffic congestion, difficulty finding a campsite or parking spot, and limited supplies in smaller communities. It is recommended you bring a generous amount of water, food and emergency supplies.

For updates and more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/willamette/ or  Twitter and Facebook @willamettenf

 

Meanwhile, the 52,531-acre Cinder Butte Fire that broke out between Bend and Burns has 466 personnel on it and is now 85 percent contained, officials said in Tuesday's update.

Several large wildfires continue to burn around the state. For the latest, visit: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/38/


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