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Damage from flooding closes parts of Huntington Canyon

By Patsy Stoddard

The consequences of the Seeley Mountain fire are coming home to roost and may be with the area for a long time. The rain storm that hit the area on Wednesday night, caused so much damage in Huntington Canyon that parts of the canyon will be closed for a few days.

Capt. Kyle Ekker from the Emery County Sheriff's Office reported the rain on Aug. 1 caused severe flooding. SR-31 will be closed from Rilda Canyon to the bottom of Electric Lake for at least the next five-seven days.

"There are problems at Tie Fork and Horse Canyon. The road has been undercut. The undercut at Tie Fork runs for approximately 50 feet. The road has just dropped off. There will be a temporary fix, so we can get traffic through, but, for the long term we are going to look at getting some funding sources to repair the damage. There are some engineers from UDOT coming down Friday to look at the road to see what can be done."

Ekker went on to describe in detail damage in other places as well.

"Pole Canyon is a mess, there were six foot boulders in the road from the storm," he stated. "We flew the area and Pole Canyon was one of the worst. Where the dirt used to be, it's down to the bed rock now and looks like a giant waterslide. The UDOT crews will work to get the road fixed temporarily, but there are going to be problems for a long time to come. There are several log jams along the river." According to Ekker there were no bridges were washed out but debris that came down the river is scattered all along the banks and in the stream. The flood water was coming by the Huntington power plant at 1,600 cfs for a couple of hours.

"It rained for approximately 45 minutes and it dropped approximately 1.25 inches of water within that time," said Ekker.

When the road reopens everyone is urged to stay out of the canyon if there is rain predicted. The bare, steep hills will be sources of flash flooding for the next few years. Emery County Recreation has closed the Bear Creek Campground for the remainder of this camping season due to the dangers from flash flooding and debris flows.

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