On September 8, 2020, the Riverside Fire started and quickly spread to more than 138,000 acres in the Mt. Hood National Forest—the fire reached the outskirts of Estacada, causing hundreds of thousands to evacuate their homes in Clackamas County.
Using key learnings from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, the RDMO sprang into action immediately putting up a wildfire travel alert on its website and directing visitors to a wildfire travel information page. The RDMO pushed messaging on social media to encourage visitors to stay out of the evacuated areas and shared links to places to donate and support local firefighters and impacted communities.
Once the fire was deemed under control and no longer a threat to nearby communities, the RDMO reached out to partners at the Mt. Hood National Forest and in Estacada to understand how tourism could be of best service and support to them.
Based on feedback and conversation the Mt. Hood & Columbia River Gorge RDMO supported the fire impacted areas in the following ways:
- Visitor messaging and partner training around closure areas due to the wildfire.
- Increased visitor, travel trade, and media messaging to encourage visitors to visit and support Estacada to help recovery efforts. Messages reminded visitors that while the Upper Clackamas was still in the closure area, the Lower Clackamas River was open and other surrounding recreation areas could easily be accessed around Estacada.
- The RDMO committed $10,000 to Estacada’s tourism recovery efforts which they felt were best used to enhance the visitor experience. $9,000 went to the Estacada Chamber of Commerce to support a new “Field Guide” tool to enhance the local vistor experience. $1,000 went to the ArtBack Mural program to support the addition of QR codes on the 20+ murals they have created to help visitors learn more about each mural when they visit.
Unfortunately, wildfire impacts last for many years after the initial impact. The Mt. Hood & Columbia River Gorge RDMO will continue to support our partners at the Mt. Hood National Forest and the community of Estacada.