Heaton Bay campground reopens
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY ” Only a few small scraggly pines remain around Heaton Bay campground’s site No. 4, where Ed and Betty Schofield are setting up camp for the Memorial Day weekend.
The tall lodgepoles that once sheltered the site from winds off Dillon Reservoir and screened it from nearby campers are gone, killed by pine beetles, cut down and hauled away by loggers. But there are hopeful signs. Now that most of the dead trees have been removed, it’s easier to see the thick clumps of young lodgepole pines growing to fill in the clear-cut areas.
The Schofields are among the very campers at Heaton Bay, which re-opened Friday for the summer.
“I’m just sick from seeing all the dead trees around,” Ed Schofield said, as he and his wife set arrange gear around their pop-up trailer. “I’m worried about all this,” he said, sweeping his hand around at the pine branches heaped in reddish-brown piles around his site. “If you get a spark off a campfire, with all this slash around, it could spread pretty fast. It looks dangerous.”
But at least the campground opened in time for Memorial Day, the traditional kick-off for the summer camping season. Three other popular Forest Service campgrounds, Lowry, Blue River and Prospector, will remain closed all summer for logging, while Peak One is tentatively set to open in July. All the campgrounds around Green Mountain Reservoir are open for the season.
The Forest Service is worried about dead trees falling down on an occupied site, and has formed a crisis team to try and address the safety concerns in critical spots, said Ken Waugh, recreation staff officer for the local ranger district.
Potentially hazardous trees have been removed from parking area to the lookout at Sapphire Point, and the team is also trying to open parts of the Windy Point group camping area with targeted tree removal, Waugh said.
“It looks a mess, but it’s safe and open,” Waugh said.
Logging at Peak One has stopped temporarily because of muddy conditions, but Waugh said work will resume soon, and still hopes to re-open that campground in July.
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