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Restoring the Santiam State Forest

ODF seeks public comment on revisions to Santiam State Forest implementation plan

Through Dec. 23, the agency is taking public comment on a revised implementation plan for the ODF North Cascades District, which covers the Santiam State Forest. You can read the draft plan and submit comment using this form, by emailing, or writing to ODF Public Affairs, 2600 State St., Salem, OR 97310.

ODF will be hosting an online presentation and public input session at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8 via Zoom. A meeting recording will be posted to YouTube. 

For more on state forest management and planning, visit the main state forests page.

About the restoration

Managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry, the 47,000+ acre Santiam State Forest saw extensive damage in the Beachie Creek Fire of 2020. The Beachie Creek Fire was slowly growing in a remote, steep and rugged portion of U.S. Forest Service land in the Opal Creek Wilderness. Historic drought conditions exacerbated by climate change, combined with high temperatures and low humidity, created conditions for fire to spread rapidly. A historic wind event on September 7, 2020 caused the fire to grow from about 500 acres to over 130,000 acres in a 24-hour span. Communities throughout the Santiam Canyon were evacuated. The fire claimed five lives, destroyed 470 homes as well as numerous businesses, decimated private and public forestland, and altered the Santiam Canyon for decades to come. 

Approximately 24,700 acres of the Santiam State Forest were within the fire perimeter, but the fire burned in a mosaic pattern across the landscape with varying intensity. ODF-managed lands are working forests that, by law, must provide economic, social and environmental benefits to Oregonians. As part of this mission, ODF forests are managed for fire resiliency, including thinning activities that can help slow intensity and spread of fire. Several large ODF-managed tracts within the fire perimeter showed low-intensity burns, and it's possible that this management strategy contributed to reduced impact in these areas. Even so, many areas saw high or extreme fire intensity that killed most trees on the landscape and caused extensive damage to roads, trails and other infrastructure. These include some of the Santiam State Forest's most popular recreation areas, including Shellburg Falls, Rocky Top/Niagara area, and the Rhody Lake/High Lakes areas. Additionally, the ODF district office in Lyons was destroyed in the fire.

Currently the entire Santiam State Forest is closed to public entry, and the public should not plan to visit the Santiam in 2020. Re-opening will take place in phases as it is safe to do so and ODF can protect forest resources. The public should expect some longer-term closures in areas severely affected. Learn more about the work ahead for ODF in starting the restoration process for recreation sites.

ODF's strategy to restore the Santiam State Forest strives to re-establish a healthy, working forest through a range of reforestation methods. Public and employee safety is our top priority as we begin to remove hazardous trees and conduct other work to reduce immediate dangers. These recovery and restoration efforts will take time.

This webpage will be updated as ODF learns more about how the fire affected the Santiam State Forest as well as next steps. This includes information on public access and popular recreation areas, planning documents related to replanting, salvage harvesting and other forest restoration and management matters.

Safety hazards in burned areas

Learn more about the hazards that remain in burned areas long after the fire.

Burned areas in the Santiam State Forest

Recreation impacts

See how popular recreation spots in the Santiam State Forest fared in the fire

Burned trail sign for Shellburg falls

Forest restoration

Full forest recovery can take generations, but it starts with careful planning with the long view in mind. As plans are available, you'll find here ODF's vision for restoring the Santiam State Forest, including replanting and salvage logging.

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