Pine Beetle Infestation Forces Campground Closures

Forest Service Concerned About Danger From Falling Trees

You may see a "Forest Closed" sign when you go to visit your favorite camping spot this summer, and you can put all the blame on the pine beetles.

The beetles have destroyed 3.5 million acres of lodge pole pines in Colorado and Wyoming, up from 2.6 million last year. The U.S. Forest Service said up to 100,000 dead trees could fall each day for the next 10 years.

"We're extremely concerned, not only for forest visitors, but also our employees. We've had a few near misses," said Forest Service spokeswoman Janelle Smith.

The Forest Service said the danger from the trees will force it to close several roads, trails, and campgrounds this summer. Most will be temporary until the problem trees can be removed, but some could last all season.

Mountain communities that thrive on tourism said they're not looking forward to the closures, but don't think the dead trees will kill their bottom line.

"When one's closed, there'll be some others that have reopened this summer, so we don't feel there will be a huge amount of impact," said Catherine Ross, executive director of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.

The Forest Service said it will decide by Memorial Day which campgrounds will be closed so campers know which areas to avoid.