Remnants of the fire remain, leaving popular areas off-limits to visitors including the lower viewing platform and trails surrounding the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon.
The lodge’s re-opening is the first glimpse at the recovery of the most-visited natural recreation sites in the Pacific Northwest. Re-opening will occur in phases.
Transportation and Forest Service officials were careful to move slowly on announcements to re-open the area due to the lingering threat of falling rocks and trees, in addition to ongoing rock scaling efforts.
Jill Buck is vice president of Multnomah Falls Company Inc., the company that runs the lodge. Buck said the lodge’s re-opening coincides with slow business season. While she’s excited to be back in operation, Buck said she hopes people will come out to support the businesses still reeling from the affects of the fire.
The company hired a restoration company to fix smoke damage done to the lodge, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars on top of revenue loss. Visitors can also expect to see fences behind the lodge meant to protect it from falling debris.
Buck says the company had to lay off nearly 100 employees as a result of the fire. The lodge employs between 75 to 100 people in the summer and just under 50 people in the winter.
In September, Gov. Kate Brown, who’s running for re-election, said she was initiating an economic council to assist with economic recovery efforts for businesses affected by the fire in the Columbia Rive Gorge.
The council, chaired by Oregon Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, is in charge of assessing the impact of the fire and to prioritize assistance from local and federal partners as needed.
The council plans to finish its work by Dec. 31.