A dying tree that fell and crushed a camper's tent. Shoshone National Forest photo.

(Dubois, Wyo.) – Earlier this year, the Wind River Ranger District of the Shoshone National Forest announced the campgrounds in the Brooks Lake area would be closed for the summer for tree removal. Due to the public’s reaction to the closure, the forest issued the following statement:

“Reaction to the closure of the campgrounds in the Brooks Lake area of the Shoshone National Forest has highlighted a need for further clarification. The primary reason for the closure is to protect those who would have camped in the campgrounds.

“Late last fall a large number of spruce trees were observed to be dying in the campgrounds. The trees were being killed by the spruce beetle, which has become more prevalent on the Wind River Ranger District. It was estimated that there were 200+ trees dying between Brooks Lake and Pinnacles campgrounds and the overflow area located between them. It is highly likely that number will increase when we are able to survey the area in the next couple of weeks. The number of trees needing to be removed is beyond our capacity in personnel and budget to handle it ourselves.

“Unlike previous years, these dying trees are generally sound and have a commercial value. This offered the Shoshone the opportunity to address the issue via a commercial timber sale. By the time we learned of the magnitude of the issue in 2013, it was too late to prepare a timber sale. Consequently, we are striving to prepare the timber sale and offer it next month. We hope the sale will start in the beginning of August. For safety reasons, we cannot permit camping in the areas where there is an active timber sale.

“The decision to not open the campgrounds until the timber sale starts is simply a matter of camper safety. The risk of a tree falling and injuring a camper is far too high. Since 2009, the Wind River Ranger District has actively removed over 500 dead and dying trees that posed an increased risk to campers from falling over. Through the years there have been close calls with trees falling near campers. Fortunately the only casualty to date is one tent (see photo).

“We are committed to keeping our campgrounds as safe as possible for the camping public and feel these actions meet that commitment.”