For almost two years, Hult Road, which connects Colton to Beavercreek Road, has been closed due to a massive land slide. The slide occurred after a homeowner obtained a permit from Clackamas County to clear cut his property. It was shocking to drive through that area just after the cut and to be certain even without a degree in geology that very soon, after the rains came, there would be serious erosion taking place. That is just what happened. The land slumped right over Hult Road and continues to move down the steep valley.
The county did 'repair' the damage once, at a cost of $150,000, but the repair did not hold. The road was open for about a month before being closed once again. Now, according to Cindy Fama who writes for the Molalla Pioneer, there is a crack in the center of the road now, and a large undercut beneath the downhill side. Ms. Fama also mentioned that she spoke with several people living along this road who now have to drive extra miles to do their shopping, pick up children from school, and get their mail in town. People delivering newspapers suddenly have to drive at least seven miles out of their way to make their circuit since this closure. There are mail delivery difficulties, the fire department has to change routes, and all persons commuting to Oregon City and beyond have extra miles added to their drive. All of this adds to the carbon footprints of people in this area.
I contacted the Clackamas County Commissioner's Office to see what was going to happen next, and Don Ehrich, Road Operations Manager, wrote saying, "We are wrestling with this road closure and trying to formulate a strategy for dealing with the current subsidence in a cost effective manner. We are aware of several slides along Hult Road that have been active off and on for many years and are trying to analyze what future activity may take place before we commit anymore public funds to temporary repairs of the current problem area."
What I still want to find out is how a permit could have been issued for such a drastic timber cut by a county who claims it does not permit clear cutting. I have lived in this area for nearly 30 years and did not observe the active slides mentioned in Mr. Ehrich's note, but would have assumed that once each and every tree and shrub is cut off of a steep hillside, that slides would occur.
Now it is time for the citizens out here to stand together like those in St. Helen's have done regarding the tire burning proposal in their city. Though we live in rural areas, most of us participate in and learn from actions in Portland. I will keep you posted about this small community and its big road problem.