Work continues to clear beetle-kill from state campgrounds
Wildland fire crews took down hundreds of dead spruce trees in state parks in the Valley over the summer. However, the work is far from over.
The South Rolly Lake Campground in the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area and the Byers Lake Campground in Denali State Park were closed all summer due to hazardous beetle-killed spruce.
Work in the Byers Lake area ended after a big snowstorm a couple weeks ago. The Division of Forestry estimates about 2,000 trees came down over the summer.
Many of the South Rolly Lake campsites are now a sea of spruce stumps after Alaska Division of Forestry efforts to make the area safe for campers. A contract crew is using a harvester to remove trees from deep within the campground, while a forestry crew is burning hundreds of slash piles of brush and branches.
“Crews are typically doing a lot of hand falling, chainsaws, stacking,” said Mat-Su area forester Stephen Nickel. “State Parks has been able to help us out with some of their equipment, piling some of the brush so it makes it easy to burn.”
The firewood from the downed trees is free for the taking. A stack of large logs is available near the Red Shirt Lake Trail Head at the end of the Nancy Lake Parkway.
In the spring, Alaska State Parks staff will handle road repairs as well as reinstall fire pits and picnic tables that had to be taken out during the tree removal process.
A U.S. Forest Service grant for hazardous fuel mitigation is funding the work at both campgrounds.
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