Beginning May 18, Forest Road 8250 will temporarily be closed at the Bear Creek bridge so crews can replace the fill material in the bridge approaches.
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest engineer Nola Driskell said high water in Bear Creek two years ago washed fill material from under the bridge causing a safety hazard for vehicles using the bridge. "We are closing the bridge at this time for traveler safety. The contractor will begin work on July 15 when the in-stream work window opens", said Driskell.
In addition, a large culvert on Little Bear Creek is scheduled to be replaced in 2010 after the Bear Creek bridge approach is repaired and the contractor can safely cross the bridge.
After the high runoff in 2008 the culvert was partially plugged with debris and water undercut the culvert. The undercutting caused a partial collapse of the fill and road surface adjacent to the culvert. The debris was removed last fall.
The public will still be able to access Boundary Campground and Bear Creek trail head.
The 8250 road should re-open around August 15, after the bridge approach work is finished. If the Little Bear Creek culvert continues to collapse and creates a safety risk, travel on road 8250 may have to be restricted until the culvert is replaced.
Bear Creek provides habitat for steelhead, bull trout, and juvenile Chinook salmon.
The consultation agencies and the Wallowa-Whitman have agreed to an annual work window for projects like bridge repair and culvert replacement on anadromous fish streams.