The Oregon Department of Forestry will reopen 4,000 acres of the Santiam State Forest for the first time since the 2020 Labor Day wildfires.
The forestry department says on its website that post-fire road repairs, timber harvesting and hazard tree removal in this part of the forest are complete. The area will open Saturday.
The area along Highway 22 near Niagara includes the popular Rocky Top Trail. Another well-known trail, Natural Arch, will remain closed.
Fires torched about a third of the 47,000-acre Santiam State Forest east of Salem in 2020. Portions of the forest spared from the worst of the Beachie Creek and Lionshead fires have already opened.
Even after Saturday’s reopening, a large chunk of forest will remain closed to the public, with a projected reopening next fall.
Conservationists have criticized the Oregon Department of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service for what they call overzealous and unnecessary post-fire logging in the area. One lawsuit brought by seven conservation groups against the state forestry department over post-fire logging was rejected in May.