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MERLIN, Ore. — Compared to areas of Northern California, communities in Southern Oregon lucked out despite a summer marked by ravenous wildfires — human lives and property made it through the year relatively unscathed. But the same cannot be said for the area's natural resources.
According to U.S. Forest Service officials, some well-traveled trails in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest (RRSNF) still retain significant scarring from the Taylor Creek and Klondike fires that burned from the hills above Selma to the outskirts of Merlin, approaching as far west as Agness in Curry County.
RRSNF said that it has been receiving questions on trail conditions in the Taylor Creek, Briggs Creek and Illinois River areas, and the agency issued an update on both the current conditions and repairs are planned for the near future.
"The Briggs Creek bridge, which is the access point to the Illinois River trail on the East side, suffered significant damage, and is a safety concern," RRSNF said in a Facebook post.
The agency also warned that fording Briggs Creek at this time of year is not a safe way to get across.
On the Taylor Creek Trail, flames damaged a retaining wall, making areas of the trail unstable.
In both cases, RRSNF said that they have received Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) funding to make the repairs, and will be working with the Sisiyou Mountain Club to revitalize the trails this year.
"In our BAER report, 135 miles of trails were identified in the Taylor/Klondike fire perimeter. While fire intensity varied, visitors need to be aware that they may encounter downed trees, rockslides, mudslides, and collapsed sections of trail tread in these areas," RRSNF said.
The agency has corralled BAER funding to work on these trails as well, and the Southern Oregon Trail Alliance and Siskiyou Mountain Club will be helping to tackle the work.
"SOTA and SMC have both been out working on trails already, and you can check out their pages for updates, as well," RRSNF said.