Pilot Butte faces lengthy rehab after Fourth of July fire
BEND, Ore. (AP) — The base of one of Oregon’s most iconic scenic viewpoints is still being rehabilitated about six weeks after an illegal firework ignited a fire that ravaged the area.
A Bend resident illegally lit a firework on the Fourth of July, sparking a fire and forcing nearby residents of the popular hiking destination to evacuate, The Bend Bulletin reported .
The fire knocked out power for a large portion of the city.
“It’s going to be a long process, so we appreciate everyone’s patience,” said Susan Bethers, park manager for the Tumalo management unit of the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees Pilot Butte.
The damage included dozens of scorched juniper trees on the butte, a destroyed informational kiosk located near the park’s main trailhead and a damaged irrigation line running underground near the park’s base trail, Bethers said.
“It’s going to be years of trying to rehabilitate that area,” she said.
The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department is still determining the cost of that rehabilitation. Bethers said the cost, along with the outcome of an insurance claim filed with the state, will help determine how the agency replaces features like the informational kiosk.
“Whether it will be the exact same, I don’t know,” Bethers said.
The fire had a short-term effect on visits to Pilot Butte. Bethers said most of the park’s regular visitors returned to the hiking trails as summer wore on. The trail to the summit had been closed for the Fourth of July fireworks show but was open again by the weekend.
Going forward, Bethers said the state parks department plans to convert the temporary fencing into a more permanent enclosure around the burned area, creating an untrammeled habitat that demonstrates how the butte might have looked before Bend was settled.
The parks department intends to remove many of the burned juniper trees in the area within the next month.
Shelly Hoffman, state risk manager for administrative services, said the agency likely will have a cost estimate for damage covered by insurance within the month.
Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com