TROUTDALE, Ore. -- Organized and well-intentioned efforts to help replant and rebuild the Columbia River Gorge are popping up on social media. But the U.S. Forest Service is warning that those efforts could end up doing more harm than good.
Friends of the Columbia Gorge has been getting lots of calls from people wanting to help replant the gorge.
Conservation director Michael Lange said his group is signing up volunteers for future projects, but those projects won't be happening for a while.
"It may not be safe to go into some of these areas for quite some time," he said.
The forest service is asking the public to stay out of the gorge, not only for now, but for weeks after the fire stops burning. Hillsides will remain unstable and dangerous.
For people thinking of starting their own replanting efforts, the forest service says the best thing they can do is wait.
"We understand their enthusiasm and energy in wanting to get back to their favorite trails and favorite places in the gorge, but we want to observe safety first," said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Shandra Terry.
And good intentions could have devastating outcomes.
"There's a possibility they could be introducing non-native species to the gorge, they could actually be doing more damage than actually restoring eco-systems in the gorge," said Lang.
Lang also points out the entire gorge is not destroyed, because the fire jumped from spot to spot.
So there is still green, and what is not green now will grow back.
"As bad as this is we have to remember the gorge is a resilient place, it's seen many cataclysms before and the gorge will recover," Lang said. "It’s still beautiful and still an icon of the Northwest."
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