News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

County gets feedback on parks restoration plan

Marion County has finished two rounds of public outreach on a Santiam Canyon parks restoration and recovery plan, and the draft proposal is set to go before the Board of Commissioners as early as August.

The county’s Parks Commission on Thursday, May 18 discussed the plan for the 6 parks and reviewed feedback from the public received at an April 24 session in Elkhorn and a May 2 event in Mehama.

Key concerns raised by residents included plans for an amphitheater at Salmon Falls Park in the North Fork area and livability challenges along the entire North Fork corridor with traffic, trespassing and alcohol issues.

The amphitheater, said parks planner Tom Kissinger, is planned to be a low-key venue for rangers to give talks and NOT a place for rock concerts.

“We are going to have our holdouts, people who are going to be against the plan no matter what,” said Kissinger, who added that “there is a balance there that must be struck.”

For example, Kissinger noted that “people don’t want to show up at a giant parking lot,” a view that will help guide how much asphalt goes in at Salmon Falls, Bear Creek and North Fork as well as Packsaddle, Minto and Niagara on Highway 22. Only Packsaddle has reopened since the 2020 fires, with other openings possible in the fall for day-use only.

Camping and yurts are being discussed for North Fork properties but such amenities are years away. 

Concepts batted around by the commission to ease pressure on the North Fork corridor include shuttle buses and more tightly controlled parking and access rules. 

Also discussed were finding additional recreation/river access spots along the Little North Santiam River, working with federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and perhaps collaborating on a permit system similar to the Northwest Forest Pass that would cover all parks in the region.

The three key access roads into the Elkhorn/Opal Creek area, North Fork Road, Pioneer Road and Gates Hill Road, all remain restricted to local traffic. The Board of Commissioners has said it plans to open the roads sometime after Labor Day. Any fall parks reopenings likely would occur in a similar time frame.

Previous Article

In Memoriam: Brad Iverson (Nov. 1, 1968 – May 9, 2023)

Next Article

Lebanon man dies in tanker crash

You might be interested in …

$42.5 million awarded for 2020 wildfire damages

Jurors have awarded $42.5 million in the second damages trial of James et al vs. PacifiCorp after proceedings that saw some fire survivors singled out for their past emotional traumas. The verdict was announced shortly […]

Santiam coach Josh Ruby addresses the squad after the Wolverines fell 50-24 at Colton last Thursday. Santiam visits Sheridan on Friday night.

Santiam falls to Colton in Tri-River showdown

Santiam got off to a strong start but couldn’t sustain it amid injuries and turnovers in the Wolverines’ 50-24 Tri-River Conference loss Oct. 13 at Colton. The Vikings, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, improved […]