Outdoors

Weakened trees force closure of South Whidbey Island State Park campground

Failing and diseased old-growth trees have forced Washington State Parks to close for the season the campground and group camp at South Whidbey Island State Park.

Park staffers preparing for the camping season recently noted several large Douglas fir trees in the campground had snapped and fallen across campsites, according to a news release from the department.

State Parks Stewardship Program staff responded and sought help from a state Department of Natural Resources forest pathologist. Assessments found advanced levels of heart rot in the stems of large old-growth trees. Many of the remaining old trees in the campground also were found to exhibit characteristics suggesting that they also are infected with advanced levels of heart rot, a condition that can cause trees and limbs to fall, according to the release.

Campers with reservations for the 2015 season are urged to telephone the State Parks camping reservation center at 888-226-7688 for assistance in transferring reservations to another park or to receive a full refund.

The 347-acre park is one of the few lowland areas in the Puget Sound region that still supports old-growth forest.

The park, near Greenbank, remains open for day-use.

State Parks Director Don Hoch said the agency will begin a site-planning process late this summer or early fall to determine the future of the campground.

The campground at Kopachuck State Park near Gig Harbor has been closed since 2011, when trees were found to be weakened by laminated root rot. The park now operates for day use only.

KLONDIKE PERFORMANCES

Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park-Seattle Unit is offering free performances of “Klondike: The Last Adventure.”

The new production follows the journey of Eliza, a young woman who travels to the Yukon gold fields. The program combines theater, video and live interactions to produce a family event. The no-cost performance will take place in the park's theater June 4 and 14, July 12, Aug. 9 and Sept. 13.

While admission to the park and the performance are free, seating is limited.

The park is at 319 Second Ave. S., Seattle.

VOLUNTEER AT RAINIER

There still are a multitude of volunteer opportunities this spring and summer at Mount Rainier National Park. Among them are:

Longmire campground manager: Full-time position from running Friday through Sept. 28 or a portion of that time. This person serves as the host at the Longmire Volunteer Campground, making reservations, checking campers in and out, performing general maintenance and cleaning, and helping with volunteer projects. Housing options include an RV site with hookups, or an apartment adjacent to the campground. Apply at volunteer.gov or contact Kevin Bacher, the park’s volunteer coordinator, at kevin_bacher @nps.gov.

Mount Rainier National Park Associates: This community partner is hosting monthly volunteer projects. They will do trail maintenance June 13 and Aug. 15; invasive species removal July 11; and revegetation planting Sept. 12. Visit their website at mrnpa.org to learn more, or contact volunteer@mrnpa.org.

Trail Maintenance: The Washington Trails Association is leading trail maintenance projects every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from June 6 through Sept. 6. Visit wta.org to learn more and to sign up for a project.

Meadow Rovers: This is one of the park’s most popular recurring volunteer opportunities. Participants hike the trails above Paradise and Sunrise, assist visitors, and educate them about the importance of staying on the trails, not feeding the wildlife, and being prepared for changing conditions. Group training will most likely be held June 13. Apply at volunteer.gov, or send questions to MORA_meadow_rovers@nps.gov.

MeadoWatch: Trained volunteers hike transects at Paradise and White River, observing which flowers are in bloom or gone to seed, to help scientists map out trends in response to changing climate. Find out more at meadowatch.org, and sign up there to attend training either at the park June 13.

If you'd like to receive monthly notices on new volunteer opportunities, send an email to kevin_bacher@nps.gov.

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