Bureau of Land Management Ore. & Wash.
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News Release
Landslide on Little Elk Mountain Road, Bureau of Land Management notifies public - 02/28/24

Eugene, Ore. — Bureau of Land Management officials are notifying the public of a landslide affecting a portion of Little Elk Mountain Road. The landslide is encroaching on the road, also known as BLM Road 16-8-36, around mile marker 1.4. The public can expect to see warning signs and flagging posted in the area.

The BLM may explore options for seasonal road closures in the affected area for the purposes of protecting public safety, protecting the fragile slopes from further soil erosion, and reducing trash dumping that has occurred over the edge of the slide. If closures are deemed necessary, the closure would undergo appropriate environmental analysis and public notification.  

A series of cool, wet winters have exacerbated pre-existing instability on the hillside along Lamb Creek. Last spring, BLM officials urged caution in the area. Now the slide has moved even closer to the road, potentially compromising its structure. Because the slide is located near a tight turn in the road where sight distance is limited, the steep drop-off and loss of the road shoulder pose a high safety risk.  

“Public safety is our top priority,” said Dennis Teitzel, the BLM’s Northwest Oregon District Manager. “Without a stable shoulder, the road is increasingly dangerous for drivers.”

In addition to compromising the road, the slide has dumped large amounts of dirt and mud into Lamb Creek. Residents and passers-by will notice that the water running from Lamb Creek into Lake Creek is has been turned brown by the sediment for over a mile downstream.  

Landslides are common throughout the Coast Range due to the underlying geology. Sandstone weathers easily, and layers within the stone can fracture, leading to slides. In fact, Triangle Lake was created when a landslide created a natural dam across Lake Creek.

This particular hillside has been unstable since at least 2006. Little Elk Mountain Road had to be relocated after a minor landslide in 2021. BLM often hears members of the public express concern that landslides are triggered by forest management. However, this landslide is suspected to be a natural process triggered by consecutive years of heavy late-winter rainfall. The area surrounding the slide was last harvested in the early 1980s. Aside from road maintenance and stabilization actions taken in response to signs of hillslope instability, BLM forest management in the area has been minimal.  

Once the weather dries out, the soil is expected to stabilize for the season, but movement may be triggered over the coming years during prolonged wet conditions.

 

-BLM-

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

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