NATIONAL FORESTS — A week after a storm and brief surge of hurricane-force winds swept through the region, areas around Priest Lake and especially the Colville National Forest are still clogged with downed trees.
The good news is that powerline crews, government agencies and private citizens have been working their butts off with chain saws and equipment to make progress. The bad news is that some areas are a big mess and still unaccessible.
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area reports all campgrounds and facilities are open. Priest Lake Range Station reported that some trails got “hammered” with blowdowns, but no specific reports were available. Forest trail crews and volunteers had just finished a logging out 192 miles of trails on the Priest Lake District the week before the storm struck, killing a man in his pickup in the Priest Lake area.
Generally, the Panhandle National Forests came out of the dangerous storm fairly well, said Jason Kirchner, forest spokesman in Coeur d'Alene.
But the Colville Forest's Republic Ranger District and portions of the Collville Indian Reservation, where assistance is still being requested, are a different story.
Here's the word from Colville Forest spokesman Franklin Pemberton:
The impact to recreation specific to the Republic R.D. from this event is severe.
Crews have made significant progress on getting all of the main forest service (FS) roads open and “passible”. All of the main FS roads are passible for a full-size pickup truck, but motorhomes, camp trailers and horse trailers are not recommended. Work continues to open all of the main FS roads completely to larger size vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines and is expected to be completed by this Friday. Many secondary FS roads remain blocked by down timber and will be opened once all the main roads are completed.
Many roads to trailheads remain blocked and trail conditions are being reported as being blocked by down timber. All campgrounds are open with the exception of Ten Mile Campground. Crews will continue to work to open secondary roads that lead to recreation sites and trailheads, but there is no estimate of when this work will be completed.
Forest officials are still recommending that visitors to the Republic R.D. stay in the developed campgrounds and limit their travel on the forest as much as possible.
Contact the Republic Ranger District Office, (509) 775-7400 for specific recreation questions.