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Grayback Road reopens to local traffic almost a year after Slater Fire

The US Forest Service says that the roadway is back open in case Happy Camp residents need an escape route from the McCash Fire.

Posted: Aug 31, 2021 5:05 PM

HAPPY CAMP, Ore. — Almost a year after the Slater Fire ravaged the hinterlands between California and Oregon around the community of Happy Camp, the US Forest Service says that Grayback Road — a popular route between Happy Camp and Josephine County — is back open.

Since firefighting efforts on the Slater Fire wound down, crews have been working on hazard tree assessment and removal. This week, Happy Camp-Oak Knoll District Ranger Roberto Beltran completed the inspection of the removal work along Grayback Road within the Klamath National Forest boundary.

With the news that Happy Camp would be placed under an evacuation warning due to the McCash Fire to the south, the USFS decided to immediately reopen the road to allow residents an alternate route out of town in case an evacuation order comes down from the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office.

"I’m incredibly grateful to our dedicated Forest Service employees and their neighbors in Happy Camp and around Siskiyou County for their work to reopen this vital road as quickly as possible,” said Forest Supervisor Rachel Smith.

An official reopening of Grayback Road for all traffic is still to be determined while crews continue logging work on the Oregon side. Officials with the Klamath and Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forests said that they worked with the Karuk Tribe and Siskiyou County to make reopening the Grayback Road a priority.

"The County is grateful the Grayback Road Emergency Evacuation Route for the community of Happy Camp has been restored. This road is a vital transportation route for medical needs, commerce and safety," said County Supervisor Ray Haupt.

“The Karuk Tribe has been advocating for the reopening of Grayback Road ASAP in case of an emergency. We are very happy that the USFS made that decision due to the McCash Fire,” said Karuk Tribal Chairman Buster Attebery.

Grayback Road still falls within the Slater Fire closure areas for both the Klamath National Forest and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. USFS said that the hazard tree work included cutting trees along the roadway that had a risk of falling onto the road. There is still more post-Slater Fire work planned for the area.

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