Historic Oneonta Tunnel

ODOT: I-84 may open by this weekend

Ainsworth State Park, Ore. (KOIN) – At Oneonta Gorge, thousands of small rocks littered the entrance.

The Tunnel–still scorched. And you could still see smoke in the distance.

“It’s natural to have fire go through forest ecosystems,” said Rachel Pawlits, a U.S. Forest Service spokesperson.

She says we need to have some perspective about the Eagle Creek Fire.

Yes, it’s scorched on of the most beloved scenic areas in the country. But all is not lost.

“There’s gonna be a natural restoration process where there’s seeds in the soil, they’ll begin to grow, trees will replace themselves,” Pawlits explained. “Some of the trees that look dead will end up not being dead when the spring comes.”

During the tour, ODOT explained they have to use an area of I-84 eastbound near Ainsworth State Park to place the hazardous trees they took down–trees that scalers have been cutting down.

Tom Braibish is a Geotechnical Engineer at ODOT. He said, “They’re doing the final clean up, taking down any snags.”

The Tooth Rock area was also hit hard. Almost everywhere you looked the steep slopes were burned–still a lot of work ahead.

“We’ll bring the stump down then we’ll bring the last bit of that tree down,” Braibish said.

ODOT said expect an active fall or winter. The fire has made the gorge even more vulnerable to slides.

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