The county docks still look a little scruffy, and mountain trails are still snowbound.
But despite weather-related delays, campgrounds and beaches in the region will be open for the Fourth of July weekend as scheduled.
Counties, the state and the Forest Service are spending this week doing as much as possible before swarms of people descend on area campgrounds, parks and boat launches.
In Kootenai County, that means trying to replace no-wake signs that were washed away when the Spokane River reached flood stage, and other last-minute preparations.
“We are no means 100 percent ready for our summer stage,” said Kurtis Robinson, Kootenai County waterways supervisor. “We’re still trying to catch up.”
But all boater parks, bathrooms and boat launches are open, he said. What’s missing is the touch-up paint and some signs.
The Bureau of Land Management, state parks and state Fish and Game boat launches are all open and ready for use, as are campgrounds and other facilities.
At Priest Lake State Park, one of the incomplete tasks is to repair a historical display of a log flume that once transported logs to the lake. Last winter’s heavy snow collapsed the display.
Other than some of those niceties, the campgrounds have the usual accommodations, as well as some unwelcome elements.
“The biggest threat people will have out there will be mosquitoes,” said Phil Cooper of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “They’re worse than they’ve been in years.”
Sandpoint city parks workers have been scrambling since Lake Pend Oreille dipped below flood stage to get the city’s beachfront park ready for Fourth of July festivities, which include a fireworks display and a carnival.
The parks department hauled off 25 dump trucks full of debris from the beach last week, and is replacing docks and signs that were lost or taken apart during the flooding.
In Post Falls, the city finally opened its boat launch and beach at Q’emiln Riverside Park after weeks of flooding kept the area off-limits to boats and swimmers.
Now that the spring runoff is essentially over with, Washington Water Power has closed the floodgates on the dam and the river is returning to its summer level.
“It’s open,” said parks director David Fair. “It’s still going to be fairly cold water.”
June’s cold weather has preserved plenty of snow in the high country. While lower elevation trails are getting cleared and riverside campgrounds are now open, popular destinations in the mountains may still be out of reach.
“We’re about a month behind where we ought to be,” said Terry Kincaid of the Bureau of Land Management. Kincaid went camping two weeks ago at Crystal Lake near St. Joe Baldy, and pitched his tent on 4 feet of snow, he said.
“I used every stitch of clothing I packed,” he said. “I can’t imagine with the weather we’ve had that 4 feet of snow melted off.”
Back-country travelers can expect to hit snow above 5,000 feet. Mammoth Springs and Heller Creek campgrounds in the St. Joe River country are still under snow.
The Mallard Larkins Wilderness is even more remote this weekend since the trailhead remains snowbound.
Anyone traveling off main forest roads should anticipate downed trees or snow blocking their paths. Even a few main roads, such as Trout Creek in Boundary County and Trestle Creek Road near Sandpoint, are impassable in places.
As usual, back-country travelers should be adequately equipped.
“A lot of secondary roads still have trees in them,” said Jack Dorrell of the Fernan Ranger District. “Prepare to turn around or have a chain saw.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
MEMO: Changed in the Spokane edition.
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