Forest Service to close some Camp Hale roads and campsites | VailDaily.com
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Forest Service to close some Camp Hale roads and campsites

Cliff Thompson

“The historic values of the area are being negatively impacted by the amount of camping outside of designated campgrounds and by off-road use by motorized and mechanized equipment,” says Holy Cross District Ranger Cal Wettstein. “Users … have created a network of non-designated roads and trails. Many of these roads and trails use the historic features to create jumps and hill climbs.”

Such activity is prohibited by the White River National Forest Plan, as well as the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Wettstein says, adding that the Forest Service will be closing 37 undeveloped campsites and closing and rehabilitating the land where 10 miles of illegal roads have been cut.

The areas in which illegal roads and campsites will be closed runs from McCallister Gulch at the north end of Camp hale to the East Fork Campground on the east end of the area.

Camp Hale has two developed campsites, the Camp Hale Memorial Campground and the East Fork Campground. Both are heavily used in non-winter months.

Camp Hale also is used extensively by snowmobilers. Their activities are not expected to be impacted by the closures, however, the Forest Service says.

Roads will be closed by installing gates or by building berms or blocking roads with debris. Some of the closed areas will be revegetated.

Camp Hale, south of Red Cliff, was a military training facility for as many as 15,000 members of the elite 10th Mountain Division, which fought in Italy during World War II. The 250,000-acre area was deactivated by the Army in 1965 and given to the Forest Service in 1965. Since then it has become a popular recreation area for camping and motorized recreation.

Remnants of the structures used by troops at the site are still visible. Even unexploded munitions used in training exercises continue to be discovered as freeze-and- thaw cycles bring them to the surface.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or cthompson@vaildaily.com


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