|5/15/2013 2:18:00 PM|
Lake Wenatchee State Park still cleaning up hundreds of fallen trees
Last Friday, some of the campgrounds opened at Lake Wenatchee State Park, the first time since the devastating winter storm last December. That storm bought down hundreds of trees all over the 469 acre park. Crews have been working since that storm to clean up the damage.
Photo by Ian Dunn
Hundreds of trees came down at Lake Wenatchee State Park during the big winter storm in December. Crews have been working since that time to clean up and repair the damage.
While hundreds of trees fell all over the park, some 200 to 300 fell in the developed areas.
"We lost one of our 1950s vintage swing sets. Our newer play area down by the beach sustained several thousand dollars worth of the damage that we're in the process of gathering materials together to repair," said Rick Halstead, park manager. "We have punctured or damaged roofs. Countless minor bits of damage throughout the campground, sign posts, picnic tables, fire rings. Quite a bit of damage all around."
Work to clean up the mess has been ongoing since December. Throughout the winter, Halstead said they were cutting trees to clear the ski trails. As the snow has receded, they have been cutting, trimming, and moving logs to the edge of the road, where contractors can get at them, without running heavy equipment over the sensitive areas of the camp.
Money from the timber sale is offsetting the clean up cost, but only by a small amount, some $15,000. It has a lot to do with the difficulty of the harvest, he said. A lot of the timber is fractured, broken and difficult to access.
"In the grand scheme of things, the costs far exceed that amount," he said. "The timber with marketable value is going primarily to private contractors. They have been working for the past month. Park staff has been removing load after load of slash. That's been a daily activity for the past several weeks."
Only the north campgrounds are open. The second loop in north will be open this Friday, he said. The jury is still out on the south campground. The contractor is still working in there, and he has been hitting some road blocks, according to Halstead.
The contractor is supposed to be done by May 15, but that seems optimistic.
"We can't do much of the clean up work until they are fully out of an area, given the hazards of the equipment being operated. We are going to have an incredible volume of work to do once they step out of that campground," he said. "We think we can be open in all or a portion of the south campground by Memorial Day weekend, but we are not sure."
The south campground sustained the most damage. Some of the bathroom buildings sustained damage, but Halstead said they can make those repairs as the season progresses. It is not getting in the way of opening them to the public.
The day use area has been open all along, the beach and the boat launch. That was cleaned up early on since that area melts out first at the park. This was an extreme event for the park and the rest of the Lake Wenatchee area. Fortunately, Halstead said they have been well accustomed to dealing with timber.
They did do some thinning of the forest canopy throughout the entire park about seven years ago. The project lasted around three years.
"Once we got that cleaned up, we had the root disease issue that popped up here 2 to 3 years ago. That was a commercial timber sale," he said. "We spent several years cleaning that up. We have some experience."
There were a great many trees felled by the winter storm, but also of concern are those trees that may be close to falling as result of the storm. Halstead said arbor crews has been coming on a regular basis, carefully going through the park looking for any evidence of risks or hazard trees. That is, trees with a newly acquired lean, root lift or hung up branches.
"We're going through very methodically. We're finding a lot of that," he said.
The Lake Wenatchee State Park is looking for volunteer help, mostly on Saturdays. Anyone interested in lending a hand should call 763-3101.
Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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