Campsites’ opening teetering amid threat of beetle-damaged trees |

Campsites’ opening teetering amid threat of beetle-damaged trees

Bruce Finley
The Denver Post

When a beetle-killed tree falls in the woods and nobody is there, federal foresters barely flinch.

But when millions fall – an estimated 100,000 each day – foresters begin shutting down campgrounds.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” said Mary Ann Chambers, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service’s Bark Beetle Incident Management Organization at regional headquarters west of Denver.

“What will be closed will be areas where we are cutting trees to mitigate safety concerns and areas where we will be spraying high-value trees,” Chambers said.

The Dowdy Lake campground near Red Feather Lakes last week became the first of the season to be shut.

There’s no list yet of which areas could close, Chambers said. Foresters have no plan, she said, because snow in the high country has kept them from assessing risky areas.

The beetle-kill epidemic has ravaged 17 million acres of national forest land around the West, 3.5 million acres in Colorado. As the standing dead teeter and creak, wind is expected to knock down more trees each year for several years.

This summer’s closures are expected to surpass last year’s at 32 campgrounds – 17 of those for up to two weeks, 14 for the entire summer, one for good.

By Memorial Day, foresters will post information on a Forest Service website, Chambers said.

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