Two campgrounds in Denali State Park and Nancy Lake State Recreation Area have been closed as a result of spruce bark beetles infesting trees, which state officials say “pose a risk to the health and safety of recreationists.”

Both the Byers Lake and the South Rolly campgrounds, in Denali State Park and the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area respectively, have been closed as state officials address the issue, according to an Alaska State Parks statement Tuesday.

"These trees represent a significant safety issue for campers and visitors," said Alaska State Parks director Ricky Gease. "We have been experienced a number of rotten trees falling over in the campgrounds this season, and while the timing is unfortunate, we need to take action now to reduce this hazard and help make our parks safer."

The state Department of Natural Resources plans to contract with private business to cut down and remove the infested trees, which pose a hazard to more than 100 campsites. Federal funds are being sought to cover the costs, but park managers say the project is time-sensitive.

“To reduce the risk of spreading the beetle infestation, tree felling, chipping and removal must be timed to take advantage of colder weather conditions,” state officials wrote.

The park’s Byers Lake and Cascade trails will also be affected by the work, but Byers Lake public use cabins will remain open with restricted access via a trail from the Alaska Veterans Memorial.

More information on the spruce bark beetle in Alaska's forests is available online from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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