By Brian Cameron
At the far north end of the area that is Ecola State Park is the access road for Indian Beach. Usually park goers can expect a curvy journey from the main parking area of Ecola State Park Viewpoint, but recently a slow moving landslide has shut down the road cutting off visitors from an north coast gem.
“It’s a typical coastal-retreat,” said Nehalem Bay State Park Manager Ben Cox. “Over time we have had to reroute trails and other roads to still provide access to the area in question,” said Cox. “The current closure at Indian Beach is more centered around water damage instead of a classic landslide.”
The affected area is nothing new to Cox who has overseen repair of the specific section of road in the past. The main damage is located around the area that Canyon Creek passes under the road but despite previous repairs it continues to slump, which prompted the overall closure to vehicle traffic.
“The area is still open to pedestrians and hikers,” said Cox. “But for now we’re keeping it closed for cars or other motorized vehicles mainly due to everyone’s general safety.”
The general access road into Ecola State Park is not without its twists, turns and even a few road slippages of its own, but currently those are manageable by park staff to fill in and repair on an as needed basis. However the type of slide happening on the Indian Beach access road is not the same type of slippage that’s occurring elsewhere in the park.
“Hydrology plays a big role with slippages like the one out at Indian Beach,” said Cox. “We started seeing a great deal of activity after the 2015 series of winter storms and even more this last year too. Previously the water flows were so much that they washed a culvert completely out which required a temporary repair to be done.”
When asked why repairs weren’t currently being worked on in the area Cox said it wasn’t as simple as it might seem.
“There’s a plan in place to work on it, we’ve lined up a local contractor to restore access to the beach area but essentially we need some nice days to work on it,” said Cox, referring to how paving projects always work better on dry days. “But also there’s an issue being that Canyon Creek is a salmon bearing stream so that means if we can’t address this project before July 1 the area will be closed off for fish habitat reasons until the middle of September,” said Cox. “The goal is to get it done before Spring Break but that, again, is reliant upon Mother Nature opening up for us.”
Ecola State Park has had its fair share of seasonal erosion over the recent years. According to Park Manager Cox the seasonal storms just this year alone have already washed a large section of trail away between Ecola and Indian Beach which will require a half to full mile reroute in order to fix. Over the last few years Ecola Point has been almost completely eradicated as more intense seasonal weather impacts the north Oregon Coast. Inland hiking trails fare better as they are generally more protected but anywhere that’s exposed to the sea is getting hit harder than usual.
“For now we have decided its best to waive the Day-Use fees associated with Ecola and Indian Beach,” said Cox. “The goal however is to get it fixed in a timely manner as we are currently losing much needed revenue, so the focus is to restore access as soon as possible.”