Part of Bear Creek Greenway to close temporarily for Rogue Music Festival

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – Thousands of people are expected to gather at the Expo for the first Rogue Music Festival in June.

Jackson County commissioners voted Wednesday to close the paved path on Bear Creek Greenway near the Expo during the summer festival.

The county says it’s for public safety.

It will be closed for four days, starting June 15 to June 18, from Pine Street to Upton Road.

“There’s going to be a lot of unusual activity on the greenway,” Jackson County roads and parks director Steve Lambert said. “A lot of pedestrian traffic, as we’ll be using that for a route to the music festival. We really want to minimize conflict and any opportunity for someone to potentially get injured out there.”

In July 2018, the Peninger Fire ripped through the greenway near the Expo.

It burned almost a hundred acres, causing widespread evacuations in the area, even burning several structures.

One person died.

The cause is still under investigation.

Just days later, Country Crossings, a music festival similar to Rogue Music Fest, took place.

Jackson County Fire District No. 3 deputy fire marshal Mark Northrup was one of dozens of firefighters from many different agencies who were there.

“The fire picked up quickly, it got into that heavy brush that we see along the greenway and it traveled quickly and grew quickly,” he said.

Lambert is clear, saying the decision to close a portion of the greenway is not because of fire concerns.

In a follow up email, Lambert said there is a separate closure the county commissioners have approved the past few years, following the Almeda Fire, to close the off-paved trail section of the greenway once ODF declares fire season.

Northrup said shutting down a portion of the greenway before the event is beneficial, with dry fuels and the potential for people to spark a fire, at high risk.

“When you have thousands of people walking in that area, you’re putting a great deal of life at risk because of that,” Northrup said. “To go in and close off those areas, make sure no one is in there starting fires, and causing a hazard that puts that many lives at risk, I think is a good thing.”

ODF told NBC5 earlier this week fire season will be declared no later than June 1.

Meaning, commissioners could vote in time to close the off trail sections of the greenway, before Rogue Music Fest.

Lambert says Commissioners have already approved an order closing all off trail sections of the Greenway during fire season.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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