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Hazard Trees Prompt Winter Campground Closures at Olympic National Park

In a move prioritizing visitor safety, Olympic National Park (Washington) has announced seasonal closures of specific campgrounds due to the looming threat posed by hazard trees. The decision comes as compromised tree health and stability in certain areas have heightened the risk of tree falls during the winter months.

Starting November 1 and extending through March 31, visitors will find closures in several areas of the park. Among the affected sites are the entirety of Staircase Campground, Loops A, B, C, and E of Mora Campground, and the South Loop of Kalaloch Campground.

The underlying cause of these closures is the deteriorating health and stability of trees in these regions. Winter, with its wet soils, strong winds, and heavy snow-laden canopies, exacerbates the risk of these weakened trees falling.

At the heart of the issue in Staircase Campground is the presence of Armillaria root rot. This disease has been found to weaken the stability of both conifer and broadleaf trees in the area. Armillaria operates by cutting off the nutrient flow to the upper parts of the tree. As a result, trees with compromised roots become particularly vulnerable during winter conditions. However, the park is not taking this lying down. There are ongoing efforts to monitor these hazard trees. After thorough evaluations by park staff and partnering scientists, affected trees will be systematically removed.

Meanwhile, Mora Campground faces a different challenge. Dwarf mistletoe has infected some of the hemlock trees. While not fatal to the trees, this infection paves the way for fungi to invade, leading to rot. Under normal circumstances, these trees would stand firm. However, the strength of winter winds poses a threat, potentially causing these infected trees to snap right at the infection site. On a brighter note, visitors need not avoid the entire Mora Campground. Loop D is set to remain open, but only after park hazard tree inspectors have identified and removed the infected hemlocks.

Kalaloch Campground presents yet another unique challenge. Its forest history has left it with numerous trees standing on stilted roots. These trees, although stable under regular conditions, are susceptible to failure when faced with the typical winter conditions of the coast. The combination of strong winds and wet soils can prove too much for these trees. To add to the concerns, Annosus root disease has also been detected in this campground.

While the closures might pose an inconvenience for winter campers and outdoor enthusiasts, the park’s decision underscores its commitment to ensuring the safety of its visitors. As the winter months approach, visitors are encouraged to stay informed and adhere to the closures.

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Hazard Trees Prompt Winter Campground Closures at Olympic National Park! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/washington/hazard-trees-prompt-winter-campground-closures-at-olympic-national-park/