With the mountain pine beetle epidemic affecting large numbers of trees throughout the forest, and specifically along roadsides and in the campgrounds, the forest began to treat these hazards while private landowners in the area also treated their beetle killed trees. Removal of trees across the land ownerships has created changes in wind patterns in this area.
Since 2009, the Forest Service has treated the site in an attempt to retain trees in the campground. While these efforts saved many trees from beetle infestation, the remaining green trees were subject to wind throw or blow down.
In late July of 2011, a wind throw event prompted the temporary closure of the campground to protect public health and safety after visitors’ personal property and Forest Service infrastructure (tables, bathrooms, and fire rings) were impacted. In 2014, loop B was closed in July after two wind and rain events brought down green trees in the campground, again impacting visitors’ personal property and campground amenities.
The forest has diligently managed the vegetation at Piney to provide for public safety and enjoyment while attempting to retain the trees in the Campground and Boat Launch. However, after multiple events over the last several years, impacts to visitors’ personal property and campground infrastructure, and resulting campground closures, the risk posed by the remaining green lodgepole led us to the decision to remove the remaining overstory trees.
With the removal of the overstory trees the campground looks very different, but a new generation of trees are already growing. Along with the pine seedlings and saplings, we retained the existing Douglas-fir and spruce; and grasses, wildflowers and shrubs are bountiful.
Clean-up work of limbs and debris will continue in Piney Campground throughout the spring in preparation for summer opening. Once the campground is ready to open, forest users will be informed and a different looking, but still beautiful location on the shores of Georgetown Lake will be available to campers for their enjoyment.
For more information, contact the Pintler Ranger District in Philipsburg at (406) 859-3211.