- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

BEND, Ore. (AP) - Forest managers in central Oregon are racing to clean up trees downed by winter weather before summer tourists arrive.

Workers have cleared trees from most of the primary roads but are still cleaning up the damage on smaller routes, Steve Bigby, roads manager for the Deschutes National Forest Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District, told The Bulletin (https://bit.ly/1SMB2jZ ).

Although high winds and accumulated snow caused most of the toppled and snapped trees, Bigby said other weather phenomena might have played a role as well.

The frozen soil helps stabilize the roots of trees during most winters, but Bigby said the soil didn’t seem to freeze as solidly as usual this year.

“I’ve been on the district 21 years, and this is by far the worst year I’ve ever seen in terms of blow down,” he said.

In the past, the Forest Service has put up signs saying roads littered with trees were closed. But Deschutes National Forest spokeswoman Jean Nelson-Dean said drivers routinely ignored the signs, so the Forest Service didn’t bother this year.

Trees also fell across many hiking and mountain biking trails this year, Nelson-Dean said. A largely volunteer-driven push to remove the trees has started but will take time, she said.

“We do the best we can; there’s something around 2,000 miles of trail in the forest, and there’s no way for us to get to all of that before people start going out on trails, even with a great contingent of volunteers,” explained Nelson-Dean.

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Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com

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