The campground at Kopachuck State Park will remain closed for a third summer season, as State Parks officials continue to deal with a root rot issue.
Parks officials are waiting to receive a consultant’s report on slope stability within the park. The long-term future of the campground, said stewardship program manager Lisa Lantz, could hinge on the finding and recommendations in that report.
“The campground will definitely not reopen this summer,” Lantz said. “It’s too soon to speculate whether it will ever reopen, but it is a realistic option.”
The campground has been closed since May 2011 when park staffers became concerned about the health of the trees towering over many of the 41 individual campsites After studying the trees, an arbor crew from the state Department of Natural Resources found that about 80 percent of the Douglas firs were affected by laminated root rot. That can cause trees to fall with little or no warning, posing a danger to visitors, staff and facilities.
In January 2012, about 900 Douglas fir trees were cut from a 25-acre portion of the park. The work lasted through Memorial Day that year.
Since then, Lantz said, no more tree removal has taken place.
Instead, park officials have been working with a consultant who has been studying the stability of slopes in the park.
“There have been landslides on neighboring lands,” Lantz said. “There was some concern what impact further tree removal in the park would have.”
The agency has asked for more details after receiving an initial report. The final report is expected in June, she said.
“There have been a number of factors that have come up as we moved forward. So, yes, it has been a longer process,” Lantz said.
While trying to resolve the root rot situation, the agency also has requested additional capital improvement money from the Legislature.
Should the campground not reopen, State Parks is looking to further develop the day-use portion of the park, Lantz said.
In planning future use of the park several years ago, park staffers discussed development of a structure that could be used as an outdoor classroom, Lantz said citing one example.
The study also will identify locations for future day uses, she said.
A local park support group is hoping the state can avoid cutting down any more trees.
As far as a preference for restoring camping or improving the day use area, the Preserve Our Parks board does not want to see any more trees cut down.
“If that means that the campground remains closed, we would like to see that the pathways throughout the camping area, at least, be maintained as they are used daily for hiking,” said Linda Gough, president of Preserve Our Parks. “We would prefer that the day-use area and shoreline areas be improved.”
In addition to the root-rot issues, Gough said the group is concerned with the park’s overall status. With a lack of park staff, she fears an increase in people illegally digging for shellfish and taking wood that has already been cut for personal use.
“Kopachuck State Park had been an asset to the region since the 1970s and we feel that it is in peril of becoming a problem area instead of the beautiful park it has been,” she said.
“Should Kopachuck decline further or worse, become a public nuisance area, something more proactive will need to be done.”Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure