AANR-NW joins our fellow Oregonians and Pacific Northwest neighbors in mourning the losses from this extreme fire season. In the Columbia River Gorge, the Eagle Creek fire has been threatening our beautiful nude beach at Rooster Rock State Park. The western edge of this fire caused the evacuation of half of the nearby town of Corbett, and 3 smaller isolated fire areas were a stone’s throw away from Sand Island, which comprises a large part of the nude beach at Rooster Rock. (See the map below.)
The good news so far is that Oregon State Park Rangers tell us Rooster Rock is safe. Last week the east winds pushing the fire towards the beach shifted to the west, and this week several inches of rain helped firefighters to contain the fire at 46 percent. As the photos below show, the fire spread smoke and ash across the beach, and the potential for damage was very real. This fire had already jumped across the entire Columbia River, so a short hop to our beach was quite possible. Fire crews were concentrating on saving buildings and roads, so it was not certain that the park and our beach would not burn.
Rooster Rock is a real gem in the nudist world. It is one of the oldest sanctioned nude beaches in the USA. It features over 3 miles of nude beach up to 100 yards wide, 200-foot tall sand dunes, and habitat for wildlife including deer, osprey, heron, turkey vultures, frogs, turtles – and hundreds of naked people! The views of mountains receding into the gorge are amazing, and the sunsets are stunning.
The beach is also a great place to reach out to people who don’t know about AANR’s work to protect nude recreation on public lands and at resorts. Many local nudists had their earliest experiences at Rooster Rock, and a good number still return, even though they are club members. To lose all of this to fire would have really been devastating.
So far, I-84 remains closed to eastbound traffic. But when the gorge re-opens, I’m sure many of us will visit to see the fire damage for ourselves. Please donate to local fire relief efforts, and support local gorge businesses when it’s safe to return. And on your way, please visit our beautiful nude beach. Its survival is a bright spot in a charred landscape!
(Photos from: Rooster Rock State Park – Facebook page)