The closure of the access to the popular recreation facility was first ordered in 2014 over concerns of landslides. Freezing soil this winter allowed a temporary opening of Cook Lake Recreation Area through April 1 for ice fishing and day use.
Forest officials said thawing soil renews concerns for the potential for landslides in the area.
The Cook Lake area is a popular recreation destination,” said Steve Kozel, Bearlodge District Ranger, “yet, public safety is our number one priority. After carefully evaluating the potential change in soil, weather conditions related to spring thaw and rain and the risk of landslides near the lake, it is in the interest of public safety to reissue the closure order for the Cook Lake Recreation Area. "
“The “dry and frozen” winter conditions in the Cook Lake Recreation Area during the winter were the least likely time to expect accelerated mass earth movement to occur, but those conditions are now past,” said Black Hills National Forest North Zone Geologist, Karl Emanuel.
Forest officials remain concerned of the potential for landslide movements on the west hillside of the Cook Lake Recreational Area and surrounding area if saturated soils caused by spring rain and melting snow return. (Please see map for specific location.)
“Forest officials will be working with researchers from Colorado School of Mines this summer to assess the risk of the landslide to the campground,” said Kozel. Personnel will continue to monitor the area for changing conditions.
The Cook Lake Complex consists of 32 campsites and 12 picnic units. The complex includes two hiking trails, Cook Lake Trail and Cliff Swallow Trail. Forest Recreation Management (FRM), a Concessionaire, operates the complex during the late spring to early fall months and the Bearlodge Ranger District manages the complex during the shoulder season. Alternate camp grounds on the Bearlodge Ranger District are available at Reuter, Bearlodge and Sundance Campgrounds.
For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills