The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Elochoman Road not yet opening

Opening announced on Tuesday but rescinded on Wednesday


On Tuesday, Wahkiakum County officials said they were going to open a gate closing the upper Elochoman Valley Road.

However, as The Eagle went to press, Public Works Director Chuck Beyer telephoned The Eagle’s office Wednesday to say road will not be opened. This week’s print edition contains a story saying the road would be opened.

Wahkiakum County commissioners held a special meeting Tuesday and reviewed the situation.

"We opened the road prematurely," said Commissioner Dan Cothren.

First, the closure had been set in place by a formal resolution, but the board didn't adopt a formal resolution to open the road.

Second, Cothren said a geotech working for the timber company owning the land where the slide is located feels the hillslide could slide away at any time, so the area is still dangerous even though the area is drying. The geotech expects to have his report completed early next week.

"We'll all have to sit down with our engineer see what's the best avenue to go," Cothren said.

Officials closed the road several months ago after residents discovered a hillside above the road was in motion and posed the danger of a major landslide.

On Tuesday, Beyer and County Engineer Paul Lacy said conditions had changed, and the road could be opened.

"We're not seeing any evidence that it's continuing to slide," Lacy said.

Commissioner Dan Cothren welcomed the announcement on Tuesday. He had supported the closure when the slide was detected but had asked that the closure end if conditions were safe.

He added that the timber company owning the land where the slide is found is waiting for an analysis from geologists.

"When that comes in, they'll share it with the county," Cothren said.

The road provides access to commercial timberland under harvest, and the public uses the route to access outdoor recreation and a spring just up the valley from the slide zone.

But as of Wednesday, the closure remains in place.


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