A section of the Lamoille Canyon Road from Thomas Canyon Campground is being sought for reopening by the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Mountain City-Ruby Mountains-Jarbidge Ranger District. This will be done before Labor Day weekend, a report said.
With the help of the Elko County Road Department, the Forest Road Crew spent the week removing large boulders, heavy woody material, and soil from Elko’s road.
It’s been one month since heavy rainfall caused numerous debris flows in the canyon’s middle section.
“Four of six of the damaged culverts were discovered and hundreds of tons of debris have been removed from the canyon road,” said Josh Nicholes, District Ranger. “This work will enable us to open at most one lane of the road so that visitors who made reservations for Thomas Canyon Campground during Labor Day weekend won’t have to change their plans,” said Josh Nicholes.
A sign plan has been created by the District that will guide the public to the campground. To prevent vehicles from straying too close to the road’s edge, the road crew will also install K-rails in areas where the shoulder of the road was damaged. The temporary closure for motorized traffic will be lifted above the Thomas Canyon Campground as soon as vehicles are able to access it.
Lamoille Canyon visitors are still able to bike or hike into the canyon, which is closed to motorized traffic. However, they should be aware that there has been an increase in heavy equipment traffic and avoid any work zones. Also, be alert for potential hazards like loose rocks and other debris. Ruby Crest Trail hikers should continue to meet at Colonel Moore, Green Mountain Trailheads, and Overland Lake.
Nicholes stated that there is still much debris to be removed, as well as road repair and culvert work to complete Lamoille Canyon Road’s opening to the Road’s End Trailhead. “Forest staff and county employees have made great progress and deserve recognition for their hard work.”
He said, “Also a big thank you goes out to Elko County Roads Department because they assisted the District with equipment and personnel in the debris removal efforts.”
Nicholes explained that debris removal would continue until winter weather makes the work too dangerous. However, repairs to roads and culverts might need to be delayed until next spring.
Nicholes explained that the District had requested emergency funding in order to pay for the large clean-up and repair costs after 20 debris flows were caused by heavy rain. The largest was over 10 feet, the report added.
Three-day data showing rainfall from Friday, July 30 through Sunday, August 1 showed that Lamoille Canyon received 8 inches of rain. This is 25% of the annual precipitation. Research from the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that 0.25 inches of rain in 15 minutes is all that is needed to trigger a debris flow.
The National Weather Service will also place a Remote Automatic Weather Station at Thomas Canyon Campground. This station provides real-time weather data that allows the National Weather Service to track the amount of rainfall in the canyon. Nicholes said that there is still concern that more debris could flow if there is enough rain. “Public safety remains our top concern.”