19-05-03 Deer Creek 7 Roland WEB.jpg

The 2013 Beaver Creek Fire and post-fire rains caused significant damage to Deer Creek Road and the creek bed.

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comment on a proposal to reduce flood hazard and improve riparian conditions along Deer Creek by moving the location of a bridge and relocating a 1,200-foot-long section of the road there.

Two years ago, the Forest Service removed three bridges over Deer Creek and installed a large bottomless culvert on the North Fork of Deer Creek, in an already problematic area made worse by landslides and flooding in the aftermath of the 2013 Beaver Creek Fire. The current project area is just downstream from there, about 9 miles west of state Highway 75, where Deer Creek Road crosses from the south side of the creek to the north. It is the next phase in post-fire restoration and recreation access enhancements, the Forest Service stated.

The current bridge is very low. Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson said it is already partly under water this spring, and there is a risk of it being washed away during a bad flood year.

The project would remove the existing bridge and construct a new 35-foot-span timber bridge 1,200 feet downstream.  The new section of road would be built on the hillside out of the floodplain. The Sawtooth National Forest received funding to complete the proposed work through the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads program from Federal Highways.

The Forest Service stated that the changes will reduce long-term road maintenance costs and improve riparian conditions.

“As much of the road that we can put on the hillside and let the stream function as it should, the better,” Nelson said.

He said the current roadway will be restored to a natural condition after the road is moved.

Nelson said the cost of the project won’t be known until the Forest Service receives bids from contractors.

According to the press release, comments regarding the proposal will be most useful if received by May 29. Comments may be mailed to the Ketchum Ranger District, 206 Sun Valley Road or emailed to comments-intermtn-sawtooth-ketchum@fs.fed.us. Project documents can befound at fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55458. Additional information may be obtained by phone at 208-622-0090. 

Email the writer: gmoore@mtexpress.com

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