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12/5/2012 2:27:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Flood concerns prompt road closure
Kacie Thrift
Staff Writer

A gate has been placed above the junction of Mission Creek Road and Sand Creek Road to close off the Mission Creek Road to motorized four-wheeled vehicles until the ground dries up in the spring time.

The Wenatchee River Ranger District (WRRD) placed the gate in early November to stop four-wheeled vehicles from entering.

The road closure is located above private lands and only affects the portion of road located on National Forest. Only four-wheeled vehicles are prohibited from using the road. Stock animals, hikers, mountain bikers, and motorcyclists are still able to use the road but should be careful when it starts to rain. When there is enough snow, snowmobiles will also be granted access on the road.

Bob Stoehr, WRRD resource assistant, said there are federal funds for emergency rehab for the burned area up Mission Creek from the 2012 September fires. This money was used to move a gate from further up Mission Creek Road to the new location. The location where the gate used to be has a natural barrier from the flood two years ago.

The gate completely closes off the area so four-wheeled vehicles can't fit through it.

"The concern was if you have a large rain event, those soils that were hydrophobic from the fires and without vegetation, there might be more run off so Mission Creek could rise and destroy the roads," Stoehr said.

Drainage dips were installed in the Mission Creek roadway to protect it from anticipated high water runoff resulting from the resource damage from recent wildfires. Stoehr said there were approximately 20 dips recently installed that are about 3 to 4 feet long. If the water starts to overflow on to the roads it will go into these dips and back into Mission Creek.

During the construction of the dips, the ground became soft and the WRRD was worried about trucks and four wheelers destroying the construction. A sign explaining the reason for the closure has been placed near the gate to inform the public.

"Right now, with the amount of wet snow we have, it is like rain and not snow. It's so wet it's almost worse than rain. If you get 10 or 20 vehicles riding over the road it could ruin the construction," Stoehr said.

Recreational access to Sand Creek is still open to all users. The road closure is expected to last until spring when the land starts to dry up. Stoehr said the gate will not be put back up next fall. He said the issue should be fixed this summer when the Forest Service is able to use those emergency rehabilitating funds to put gravel on the soft spots to harden it up.

Even though hikers, stock animals, motorcycles, and mountain bikers are able to use the road, Stoehr suggested anyone using the road be cautious of the weather because of the flooding possibility.

"If we did have some serious flooding, it [the gate] can be used as a safety thing to make sure people stay out of there," Stoehr said. "We also ask for folks that are going up there on motorcycles to take it easy on those dips and try to preserve the integrity."

Stoehr said the WRRD has been keeping a close eye on the weather and watching Mission Creek to prepare for a possible flooding. He said even with the amount of rain and slush the area has had recently, there haven't been any real concerns with Mission Creek yet.

The only other way to get to the area the gate is blocking off is from No. 2 Canyon in Wenatchee. However, that side is also closed. Stoehr said the closing of that area has nothing to do with the recent fires but instead it is something the WRRD does every fall.

Kacie Thrift can be reached at 782-3781 or reporter@cashmerevalleyrecord.com.

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