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Several More Lakes, Trails Reopen After Eagle Creek Fire

<p>Starvation Creek in the Columbia River Gorge, March 13, 2013.</p>

Starvation Creek in the Columbia River Gorge, March 13, 2013.

A new stretch of land has reopened since the Eagle Creek Fire last September, allowing the public back onto several trails and lakes in the Columbia River Gorge.

The area includes Starvation Creek State Park, which acts as an access point for the strenuous Starvation Ridge trail, Mount Defiance trail and Warren Lake. Several more lakes and their access trails are also open for fishing and hiking, and Forest Road 1310 is now open to vehicles.

But as with any outdoor recreation, there are risks, and those risks are greater in damaged areas.

Lily Palmer, with the U.S. Forest Service, said that burned areas are especially dangerous. Fire-weakened trees are more likely to topple in windy conditions, and earth and rocks are far more prone to slide.

"In a burned area, often times, the hazards that you may encounter are going to be above you. Watch where you're standing, watch where you're spending time and always keep your head up looking around," she said.

Palmer emphasizes staying on marked, open trails and to consider not only your safety, but the safety of others.

"It's really a respect thing," she said. "If you put yourself in a situation where you've entered a closure area and you get into trouble and you need someone to help you, then you're putting the life and safety of search-and-rescue organizations at risk."

Many Columbia Gorge recreational spots remain closed, awaiting assessment by the Forest Service, including popular spots like Oneonta Gorge, Angel's Rest and Larch Mountain.

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Abigail Winn