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Risk Of Falling Trees Shutters Northwest Camping Areas

Forest managers in western Washington and northern Idaho will be closing some popular camping areas this year. They say nearby trees are infected with root rot and post a threat to campers. It’s a problem Northwest forests may see more of in the coming years.

The Bumblebee Campground near the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River is typically full of people every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But Jason Kirchner of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests says inspectors recently discovered all 25 campsites were close to at least one diseased tree at risk of falling.

“We’d been trying to keep the campground open and remove a few trees at a time, but this year, it’s just reached a point where this is our only choice,” Kirchner said.

The campground will be closed for the season while the Forest Service removes the hazardous trees.

North Idaho isn’t the only area where managers have to keep an eye out for root rot. And now a new report finds the problem could get worse. The Washington State Academy of Sciences says climate change will likely accelerate the spread of a kind of fungus called laminated root rot. The fungus infects Douglas firs.

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in western Washington is home to many Douglas firs. The Forest Service just announced it is closing a handful of campsites there deemed unsafe because of diseased trees.

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.