Eclipse planning: Be prepared

July 2017 Posted in Community

Eclipse 2017 Book-1By Mary Owen

The Great Eclipse is coming Aug. 21 and bringing with it thousands of people.

“Traffic numbers are expected to be high,” said Allison McKenzie, executive director of GROW-EDC in Marion County. “It will be busy!”

McKenzie advises having friends and family come early for the weekend and stay after Monday to avoid some of the crowds at airports, train stations and on the road.

“Regular traffic flow and travel may be impacted by the large number of visitors… causing congestion or grid lock,” Silverton Police Chief Jeff Fossholm agreed. 

“We have been coordinating with Silverton Fire District, Woodburn Ambulance and work closely with Mt. Angel Police Dept.,” he added. “Emergency services should be able to clear traffic and get through to where they need to go.”

But it is not just the roads that will be impacted.

Ranger Grady McMahon with the Detroit Ranger District, Willamette National Forest, said district staff members will camp out at many popular trailheads and viewing areas to welcome and inform the public about the eclipse and how to “leave no trace” so that the impacts to the land will be reduced.

“We look forward welcoming visitors and helping them create lifetime memories of the natural world – terrestrial and celestial,” McMahon said. “We anticipate a great number of visitors, and there is a good possibility for congested roads and already full campsites.”

McMahon asks campers to stay on trails and not create new campsites or fire rings. 

“August is a time of high fire danger, so be prepared to camp using gas stoves as fires may likely be prohibited at this time of year,” he said. “Bring a small shovel to bury your human waste and toilet paper. If you have gloves and an extra trash bag, please consider taking out something another visitor may have left behind.

“Be prepared to share the woods with your fellow outdoor enthusiasts.”

So, busy roads, full recreation areas and the local neighborhood may feel more crowded, too.

There will be many events in the Silverton and Mount Angel area from Saturday through the Monday eclipse. Information can be found in the Eclipse 2017 guide available at the Silverton Chamber or Commerce, Our Town office or at tinyurl.com/y76kybuk.

“Give yourselves plenty of time to experience and savor this special weekend with your neighbors, friends and family,” McKenzie advised.

The key, the folks in the know said, is to plan ahead.

“Don’t wait till the last minute for groceries or fuel,” Fossholm said. “Be patient and calm. If you don’t have to travel stay home and off the roads so you don’t add to the problems or traffic congestion.”

Businesses are gearing up to handle the crowds of people that will be coming from all around the world, McKenzie said.

“We’re routinely hearing about groups coming from England, Germany and Japan to spend time with us that weekend,” she said. “Think about how you want to welcome visitors. Eclipse guides can help people know what’s going on and can help visitors find fun things to do in the woods, on the water, and in our small towns. A bottle of water, a nice piece of fruit, or a homemade cookie go a long way toward ensuring happiness and good street credibility for our communities.”

“Plus, no matter how busy you are with visiting friends and family or your business, take time to view the eclipse on Monday morning,” McKenzie said.

“Make sure that if anyone watches the solar eclipse (they) wear the approved safety glasses as we don’t want anyone permanently damaging their eyes,” Fossholm said.

“This is a special event for Oregon, and we are smack dab on the path of totality. Those who chase eclipses around the world speak with awe about what the experience is like.,” McKenzie said. “The world won’t end if you pause for a few minutes to enjoy yourself!”

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