Avalanche Campground to be rebuilt | AspenTimes.com

Avalanche Campground to be rebuilt

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Courtesy of the U.S. Forest ServiceA new loop of campsites is proposed with the rebuilding of Avalanche Campground, south of Carbondale.

CARBONDALE – The U.S. Forest Service has proposed rebuilding virtually all of Avalanche Campground south of Carbondale, where most of the campsites were closed this year out of fear of falling trees.

The agency will hold a Nov. 30 open house at the Sopris Ranger District office in Carbondale to discuss its plans. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The 13-site campground, 13 miles south of Carbondale, has long boasted a loop of 10 sites near Avalanche Creek in an area dominated by mature cottonwoods and old-growth spruce trees. Three overflow sites are located along Avalanche Creek Road (Forest Road 310), outside of the campground.

The Forest Service has periodically removed trees within the campground that were identified as possible hazards, but the action left other, healthy trees exposed to high winds, making them more vulnerable to falling, the agency said. Last May, a large, healthy tree snapped and fell on an unoccupied tent; no one was hurt.

Eight of the 10 sites on the loop were subsequently closed, leaving few spots for campers to use.

Making the sites in the riparian area safe would basically require clear-cutting the campground, according to Martha Moran, recreation staff supervisor with the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District.

“That’s what we were going to have to do,” she said.

Instead, the agency will construct a new campground nearby at an estimated cost of $50,000 to $70,000. It will retain three sites along the old loop that were farthest from the creek. Ten campsites will be created on a new loop to the north of the old campground, using an area of open meadow dotted with oak brush. In addition, two separate sites specifically for campers with horses will be created, and the overflow sites outside the loop will remain available.

The fire rings and picnic tables have already been pulled from the closed campsites. The road and decommissioned sites will be reclaimed and a trail created, allowing people to fish and enjoy the area along the creek, though they will no longer be able to camp there, Moran said.

The project also requires the relocation of one vault toilet facility to serve the new loop.

Work could begin as early as May 2012, according to the Forest Service.

“To get it open by August would be my desire,” Moran said, noting Avalanche Campground is particularly popular during the fall hunting season.

Access to the Avalanche Creek Trail, which begins where the road ends at a parking lot just beyond the campground, will be maintained next summer, Moran said.

In addition to next week’s open house, the Forest Service is accepting written comments on the campground reconstruction plan for 30 days. Send them to: Martha Moran; Recreation Staff; 806 W. Hallam St.; Aspen, CO 81611, or fax them to (970) 925-5277. Comments may also be emailed to comments-rocky-mountain-white-river-westzone@fs.fed.us (the name and mailing address of the individual submitting electronic comments must be included).