Root rot closes Herman Creek campground

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Forest Service is temporarily closing Herman Creek Campground/Horse Camp, located just east of Cascade Locks and 47 miles from Portland, to protect public health and safety. This temporary closure is expected to last throughout the 2014 summer season, and the public will be notified when the campground is reopened.

Threats to public safety from diseased trees were identified in the seven-site campground, popular with equestrian users. Laminated root rot is a native tree pathogen that has infected more than 30 trees in the campground. The disease, which affects the roots and lower stems of certain tree species, has the potential to cause healthy-looking trees to fall without warning.

“Laminated root rot poses significant safety hazards in developed recreation sites such as campgrounds,” said CRGNSA Manager Lynn Burditt. “Trees infected with the disease are highly unstable and can easily fall over as they lose root strength.”

The United States Forest Service has been monitoring the situation and determined that laminated root rot was spreading throughout the campground. Laminated root rot is the most damaging root disease of forest trees in Oregon and Washington, and most hazardous to people and property in developed sites.

A vegetation management plan for the campground will be developed to deal with the removal of diseased trees. Since laminated root rot affects only the roots and lower trunk, most of the wood in the infected trees is sound and may be used for in-stream work to improve fish habitat in the CRGNSA.

After diseased trees are removed, the campground will be replanted with conifer trees that are resistant to laminated root rot; they will provide long-lasting vegetation for the future of this site. The atmosphere of the campground will change to a more open feeling in the short-term.

All other USFS campgrounds in the CRGNSA will be open and the Herman Creek Trailhead will not be affected by this closure. Herman Creek Campground/Horse Camp will be reopened and the closure lifted when USFS has determined there are no longer any public safety hazards.

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For more information about the project, contact Stan Hinatsu at 541-308-1708.

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