“Closing a popular campground before a holiday weekend is a terribly difficult decision but, in this case there are too many dangerous trees to remove before the weekend, so closure is our only option to ensure a safe environment,” said Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth.
Following last Sunday’s wind storm crews have been assessing the conditions of developed recreation sites throughout the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. In many sites crews have already identified and removed dozens of hazardous trees from campgrounds, picnic areas and trail heads to ensure these locations are safe for the public. Crews are continuing their assessments and hazard tree removal work today and will complete these efforts prior to the start of the Labor Day weekend. At this time all of the forest’s large campgrounds have been assessed and no further sites have been identified that would require closure. However, a handful of smaller recreation sites are still being assessed today. For the latest status of the ongoing storm damage assessment please visit Inciweb.org.
A number of alternate campgrounds are available in the Priest Lake area, including Outlet Campground, Luby Bay Campground, Reeder Bay Campground and Osprey Campground. These sites all include “first come, first served” sites and reservation sites. For information on reservations, including checking the status of reimbursement for Beaver Creek Campground reservations, please contact Recreation.gov at 1-877-444-6777.
In addition to developed campgrounds a large number of people choose to camp in dispersed areas throughout the forest. The current assessment of hazardous trees does not include areas outside of developed recreation sites so it is vitally important for forest visitors to understand that hazardous trees may be present anywhere on the national forest. Visitors are encouraged to take a hard look at their surroundings when recreating throughout the forest, and especially when selecting a campsite. Hazardous trees are not always readily apparent, but some obvious indicators of dangerous trees include damage to roots, branches or trunk; insect infestations; leaning trees; or dead trees. These types of trees are especially hazardous when the wind is blowing. For more information of identifying and avoiding dangerous trees please download the Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s Hazard Tree Safety Flyer.
For more information on recreation opportunities on your National Forest please contact your local US Forest Service Office.