Thursday, January 18, 2018

Unstable rock slide to keep Stillwater River Road closed

Stillwater River Road in Nye will remain closed for at least one more week -- and possibly longer -- following an early morning rock slide that officials say remains unstable.
One home has been evacuated, with officials recommending the evacuations of two others.
A small team of engineers has evaluated the slide and believes that moisture from recent heavy rainstorms seeped behind wedges that were holding large sections of rock together, causing the slide, said Cassie Riggin, project manager for Great West Engineering.
Engineers returned to the scene Monday to re-evaluate the situation and were expected to provide an update to county officials this week.
Emergency officials were faced with a new problem this weekend as reports with people with small children being at the slide sight climbing on the rocks, according to Stillwater County Sheriff’s Dispatch records.
Concerns about future slides led to the road closure, said Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Carol Arkell and County Road & Bridge Superintendent Mark Schreiner at an informational meeting attended by approximately 25 residents last Thursday afternoon in Fishtail.
The slide occurred just upriver from the Midnight Canyon Bridge around 7:30 a.m. last Wednesday, June 3, and came down into the Stillwater River with enough force to push water up into the yard of a home on the opposite of the river, said Arkell.
Schreiner said the road is impassable and no efforts were going to be made to clear it until the engineers gave the go ahead.
“We’re not going to put anyone under it (the slide area) if it’s not safe,” said Schreiner.
Phone service was knocked out in the Midnight Canyon area temporarily.
Homeowners asked about a large section of rock still hanging and if there was funding to do what was necessary to shore up the area. Schreiner cautioned that at this point, it is a wait and see game and that while some options have been discussed generally, no detailed plans will be made until the area is stable enough for a closer look.
Riggin said there are solutions, some of which are “astronomical” in price, but something that would need to be approved by the Stillwater County Commissioners.
A homeowner asked a representative from Fish, Wildlife & Parks if he thought another slide could potentially block the river channel completely, which the representative felt most likely would not happen.
“We would like to thank the residents for their patience and understanding,” said Arkell.
In addition to Arkell, Schreiner, Riggin and FWP, also at the meeting were Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde, state DES, Nemont and Commissioner Dennis Shupak.