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Suspected rock slide destroys forest bridge

UPDATE; 3-20-17 The Salmon-Challis National Forest has determined the Stoddard Pack suspension bridge collapsed late March 15th or early March 16th. The south tower was struck by a rock fall originating from an outcrop about 150 feet above the tower base. At least one of the rocks was at least 8 feet in diameter. The 348-foot suspension bridge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1937. The lowest hanger cable ends were approximately 25 feet above the water surface. Four large sections of wood decking and reinforcement were found several miles downstream of the bridge.
All were grounded on rocks Friday but were expected to move downstream as water levels rise. It is expected the wood will lie relatively flat on the water, which could make it difficult for jet boaters, rafters, and kayakers to see. “This event was an unfortunate natural disaster and emphasizes the instability of the Salmon River Canyon Corridor during the later winter and spring seasons. The loss of the Stoddard Pack Bridge is enormous as it provides important access into the wilderness for many recreationists including hunters, fishers, and hikers” said Ken Gebhardt, North Fork District Ranger. It remains unknown when the bridge will be considered for reconstruction. ORIGINAL STORY: The landmark Stoddard Pack suspension bridge on the Salmon-Challis National Forest has collapsed. Forest Engineering and Safety personnel are assessing the site, but say the bridge is no longer serviceable to the public. The exact cause of the collapse is unknown, but there is indication that a rock or debris slide may have been the cause. The bridge crossed the Salmon River about 38 miles west of North Fork, adjacent to the Salmon River Road (#030) downstream from the confluence of the Middle Fork Salmon River and the Salmon River. The bridge had been an important access point for stock and hikers into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area. Debris and cables are still in the river channel. The forest has not decided if the bridge should be considered for reconstruction. “It is unfortunate that this has happened and it’s a great loss,” said North Fork Ranger District Ranger Ken Gebhardt.”The Stoddard Pack Bridge provides important access into the wilderness for many recreationists including hunters, fishers, and hikers.”

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