Crews will start this week rehabilitating areas that were burned in the Canyon Creek complex fire in August.
Forest managers are focused on preventing flooding near Canyon City. The fire burned through a steep, narrow canyon and the risk for erosion and runoff is high.
Malheur National Forest supervisor Steve Beverlin said rehabilitation is the agency’s highest priority this fall.
“We’re looking at some aerial mulching, so putting some mulch on the steepest and most eroded hillsides,” said Beverlin. “We’re looking at trying to stabilize some of the stream drainages — putting large wood in the stream which helps filter the debris and sediment.”
Crews will be working against nature’s clock to protect the remaining homes in the area.
“We hope the weather cooperates with us this fall so we can accomplish all of the rehab we want done before the first significant snow,” said Beverlin.
The U.S. Forest Service is also considering early flood warning systems that would notify residents of heavy rainfall.
Crews will be repairing roads, bridges and replacing signs that were lost in the fire.
So far, about half a million federal dollars have come through for rehabilitation efforts. Beverlin expects the total cost to be much higher.