The Rogue River's Wild & Scenic section that has been closed for nearly two weeks due to fires raging nearby and heavy smoke is back open today, but there are several restrictions still in place.
The section, which runs from Grave Creek to Mule Creek, along with the Grave Creek Boat Ramp, reopened at 7 a.m., fire officials said. Several restrictions remain in place for boaters because of ongoing efforts to extinguish the nearby Big Windy Complex.
"It's still congested up there. We still have a lot of fire things going on," said Bill Queen, spokesman for Pacific Northwest Team No. 2.
All river transits need to be completed in no more than two days. There are also several pass-through areas along the reopened stretch where boaters cannot stop or camp. They include Winkle Bar to Quail Creek and Horseshoe Bend to Winkle Bar. Boaters can still stop on the river's north side at that section, with camping allowances of no more than one night. Montgomery Creek to Horseshoe Bend is also a pass-through area with the exception of Black Bar Lodge.
"We've completed the burnout around the lodge there. We did a lot of work with thinning, cutting brush. It's in a very safe situation now," Queen said.
The Grave Creek launch to Montgomery Creek and Quail Creek to Foster Bar will have no other restrictions.
Scouting rapids will be allowed inside pass-through areas, but all other on-shore activities are restricted. No campfires are allowed. Only gas and propane stoves can be used for cooking.
The Rogue River and Rainie Falls trail closures remain in effect.
Fire officials said the stretch of river could close again, dependent on ongoing firefighting operations.
The lightning-sparked Big Windy Complex has grown to more than 15,000 acres. Recent rains have helped to slow the fire's growth but have also delayed work on other burnouts to bolster firelines. As of Sunday night, crews had the blaze 15 percent contained.
— Ryan Pfeil