OMAK – Depending on location, chainsaws, equipment and helicopters may supplement the usual sounds of the forest this summer as crews actively work to restore forests and improve campgrounds on National Forest Lands in Okanogan County. Some popular locations that will be a hive of activity over the next few weeks include Irongate Trailhead, Chewuch River above Falls Creek, Salmon Meadows Campground and Beaver Lake Campground.
- An extreme windstorm early Monday, June 25 morning blew down thousands of trees across the Methow Valley and Tonasket Ranger Districts. Crews are assessing damage and cutting open roads this week. This storm also wreaked havoc on many forest sites including Beaver Lake Campground, east of Tonasket. Crews had been working to reopen the campground after flooding and are now faced with removal of several large downed trees. Until work is completed, the campground will remain closed. Residents may remember a similar blow-down event occurring in 2012.
“Forest visitors are asked to exercise a high degree of caution, being especially vigilant for overhead threats,” said Tonasket District Ranger Matt Reidy. “We may have to implement closures due to hazards and will know more once assessments are complete.”
- A short-term closure is necessary to complete improvements at Irongate Trailhead. The closure is expected to be in place for about one week beginning July 9. Individuals wanting to visit the east side of the Pasayten Wilderness can still do so through Chewuch, 14 Mile and Windy Peak (Long Swamp) trailheads.
- River Restoration work in the Chewuch will occur between Falls Creek and Twentymile Creek Wood will be placed in the river at key locations to create juvenile rearing and adult holding habitat for salmon and steelhead. Some of the less accessible locations will get their delivery of wood by helicopter on July 9 and while the helicopter work occurs, temporary closures will be in place for three dispersed campsites up Twentymile creek and on the East Chewuch Road 5010000 just south of the LeRoy Pit. The access road 5010000 to the Brevicomis Recreational Cabins will also be closed for a little over half of the day on July 9th and flaggers and a pilot car will be moving people on west Chewuch Road during this time. Eightmile Creek snopark will be closed while helicopter work occurs.
“We know that the closures will be an impact, particularly to those with recreation residences in Brevicomis, said Acting Methow Valley District Ranger Matt Marsh. “We are doing all we can to keep the closures as short as possible by staging the wood closer to the project area in advance of the work and we will have flaggers and a pilot car when partial closures will allow for safe completion of the mission.”
“While the helicopter work is all scheduled for July 9th, he said, “there will be heavy equipment moving up and down both sides of the river as we work on this project throughout July.”
- Crater Creek Trailhead, a popular location for accessing the Lake Chelan Sawtooth Backcountry, will be closed for construction work beginning in late July. The trails, including Crater Creek #416, Martin Creek #429 and Eagle Lakes #431 remain open and could be accessed via Foggy Dew Trailhead.
- Access to Thirtymile Trailhead on Chewuch road was blocked by a washout. The road is closed at Andrews Creek.
- Additional campsites are being added to the Salmon Meadows Campground. The added facilities will better accommodate some of the larger RV’s.
“We’d like to remind folks to check conditions before heading out to enjoy their National Forest this summer,” said Marsh. “It’s best to stop in at the local Forest Service offices or call to get the most current information.”
Forest Service offices are in Omak 509-486-5145, Tonasket 509-486-2186 and Winthrop 509-996-4000 and updates about campground, road and trail conditions is also posted online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/okawen/recreation.