A landslide has forced Oregon Department of Forestry officials to close a camping area along Ben Smith Creek in the Tillamook State Forest. The slide has created the potential for flooded trails and camping sites. The 18-acre slide dumped trees, earth and rocks into the stream and caused it to change course, creating the potential for a large debris flow down Ben Smith Creek into the Wilson River.
© Oregon Department of Forestry
Photo shows the base of the massive slide that dumped trees and debris into Ben Smith Creek in the Tillamook State Forest.

The creek runs into the Wilson just above where Oregon Highway 6 crosses the river at Lee's Camp about 25 miles east of Tillamook. Department geotechnical specialists have determined that the slide does not pose a risk to those driving on Highway 6 or to homes along the Wilson River. Some trails on Ben Smith Creek have been closed by the Department of Forestry because of the potential for trail washouts and debris flows.

Signs have been posted at trailheads to warn about the safety concerns. The upside is that wood that washes into the creek will create habitat for fish, officials said. "These actions are part of a natural process always at work in northwest Oregon forests," said Mike Buren, a geotechnical specialist with the department. "These changes are going on in the forest undetected by most people, especially in fall and winter."

The Department of Forestry will monitor the slide area through the winter and spring.