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Hunters clear Sky Lakes trail

Eight volunteers from the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association cleared seven miles of a main trail into the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area Saturday to improve access for hikers, hunters and horseback riders.

The chapter each summer clears downed logs along the Tom and Jerry Trail to ensure access into one of the more popular areas for pack-in deer and elk hunting in northeastern Jackson County.

The volunteers carried large handsaws to clear three big downed trees that impeded traffic on the trail, which snakes through portions burned in wild fires.

Handsaws are necessary because chain saws and other mechanized tools are prohibited in federal wilderness areas.

"We cleared the trail for about seven miles before snow drifts prevented us from going any farther," says Pete Johann, a chapter volunteer who worked on the project.

The Sky Lakes Wilderness Area is part of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The Southern Oregon Chapter of the Delta Waterfowl Foundation will hold its third annual fundraising dinner and banquet Saturday, Aug. 6, in Medford to raise money for its local projects, which focus on improving waterfowl numbers and habitat on White City's Denman Wildlife Area.

The banquet begins at 5 p.m., with the 6:30 p.m. dinner catered by Yummy's Cowboy Cuisine. Raffles, silent auctions and a live auction will follow.

The event will be held at the Ramada Medford and Convention Center, 2250 Biddle Road.

Ticket prices vary, ranging from youth tickets and singles to corporate table prices.

For prices and ticket sales, call chapter president Steve DeBerry at 541-973-9250 or email him at sddlad@embarqmail.com.

The chapter is behind the "hen house" program at Denman, in which chapter members create elevated artificial duck nests so waterfowl can lay and hatch eggs away from ground predators. The chapter has also teamed with other local groups on walking bridges and annual cleanup days there.

A road-construction project on the Umpqua National Forest will close access to the Steamboat Falls Campground through August.

Crews will be replacing the Deep Creek culvert on Forest Road No. 4760 beginning Aug. 1. Forest engineers estimate the project will take 30 days.

During the road closure, the campground will remain open with minimal services, and drivers can get there via a 20-mile detour. But those doing so may not find peace and quiet, because construction noise is expected from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays until the project is completed.

Umpqua Forest officials suggest campers instead try the nearby Canton, Island or Apple campgrounds for overnight stays.

Road access to the upper Chetco River in Curry County reopened this week after construction crews completed repairs to the Steel Bridge that has been closed since April.

The bridge serves as one of the main crossings on Chetco River Road, which is the primary public-access corridor along the Chetco River for hikers, hunters and kayakers heading to the upper Chetco out of Brookings.

The parking lots and trail at Heceta Head Lighthouse in Florence will close to the public for approximately seven weeks beginning Aug. 15, according to a news release from Oregon State Parks Department.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department are working to improve the west parking lot and the uneven, erosion-prone 1/2-mile trail leading to the lighthouse. The east parking lot will also close to serve as a staging area for the project contractor.

A new sidewalk leading to the beach will improve accessibility to the beach. Trail rehab work includes installing culverts and shifting parts of the trail into the hillside, a safety move to counter severe erosion. New benches and interpretive signs will be added to the trail, and the trail surface at the lighthouse will be improved.

The historic assistant lighthouse keeper's house, which the USFS operates through a concessionaire as a B&B, will remain open, although parking will be limited.

The parking lots and trail are expected to reopen by Sept. 30.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email mfreeman@mailtribune.com.