It’s the time of year when local residents start asking about the annual opening of the Bear Camp Road. The Bear Camp Road is a primary access route to the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest and to Medford Bureau of Land Management administered lands, and a variety of recreation opportunities. It is also the primary route for access to world-class river recreation opportunities on the Rogue and Illinois Rivers.
In the annual effort to open the Bear Camp Road in time for the Memorial Day holiday and the recreation season, the Forest Service, Oregon Department of Transportation and contract maintenance crews are being challenged by the heaviest snowpack in ten years and road damage caused by a record wet spring season. In February, road engineers discovered damage to the Bear Camp Road approximately three miles west of the junction with the Agness Road (Forest Road 33). The road damage was caused by a massive slide that created a slump failure of the road. Maintenance workers are currently in process of reconstructing the slump area by removing the damaged asphalt and reshaping and restabilizing the roadbed. “Our primary goal is to open the Bear Camp Road in time for the Memorial Day holiday,” said Road Engineer Dean Blank. “We plan to have the road open, at the latest, by Saturday, May 28th,, barring no additional road failures are discovered. However, if we discover additional damage as the snow plows clear the road off, we will need to make a determination whether the road is safe for public access.“
Snow plowing was expected to be complete by the end of last week; however, the road will not be open for public travel until the road damage is repaired. Road barriers have been installed at the National Forest boundaries in an effort to protect the public; a turnaround is available at that location.
Although the reconstruction work begun, it is a temporary fix to provide safe public access in the short term. The slump failure will require additional maintenance throughout the recreation season . Engineers will continue to monitor and evaluate the damaged area in an effort to determine what permanent repairs are needed, or whether alternative routes will be necessary in order to provide long term public access. More information on the status of the damaged area will be provided as assessments are made.