A New Era for Collier Memorial State Park
On September 7, the 242 Fire broke out in Klamath County, burning more than 14,000 acres and damaging homes and commercial structures in areas near and within the Chiloquin Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest. The fire affected areas along Highways 97, 62 and 422 and burned through areas within Collier Memorial State Park leaving a massive cleanup operation to be managed by state and local partners.
“The immediate key to success that we knew early on was that we couldn’t do it by ourselves and we needed partners to see it through,” said Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) Operations Support Manager Bridget Tinsley.
Through a collaborative effort among the Debris Management Task Force, OPRD, the Klamath Tribes and other partners, the cleanup for Collier Memorial State Park took place in the summer and fall of 2021. Coordination for the operation included regular video and on-site meetings with the Tribes prior to crews mobilizing to the work zones and the presence of tribal monitors as work was completed to protect cultural resources and minimize impacts on the landscape.
Now, more than a year following the 242 Fire, various areas of the park have reopened. Regrowth is underway as OPRD welcomes visitors back to the historic area while using wildfire impacts on the landscape to create teachable opportunities.
“This is a new era for Collier Memorial and the interpretation opportunities that come with wildfire: what is it, what does it look like, what will we see in the future? We can’t control the damage that happened. What’s done is done. But moving forward, we have a lot of control over the outcome,” Tinsley explains.