By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
The precipitation, snowmelt, and runoff that caused devastation in Yellowstone National Park and the Custer-Gallatin National Forest earlier this week are also affecting northern portions of the Shoshone National Forest.
Kristie Thompson, public affairs officer for the Shoshone National Forest in Cody, told Cowboy State Daily that several campgrounds, roads and trails were closed due to flooding.
“We did have a few different campgrounds that we had to move campers out of, as well as some of our own staff,” Thompson said.
She explained that campers, volunteers and U.S. Forest Service staff were removed from the Big Game Campground, the Wapiti Campground and the Clearwater Campground, all located on the highway between Cody and Yellowstone National Park.
“Some left on their own, others had to be assisted out, but we were able to safely remove everyone,” Thompson said.
She added that visitors to the northern part of the Forest, however, should be aware that the weather event that caused this week’s flooding might not be over.
“We know that the water could go up again, because we have some very hot temperatures coming at the end of this week,” Thompson noted. “And we still have good snow up in the mountains. So we could have another – hopefully not as large – but we could have some more flooding happen this weekend. And if that happens we don’t want anyone stuck in those campgrounds. So for now, campgrounds are staying closed.”
Thompson said that Wapiti, Clarks Fork, and Greybull District Ranger Casey McQuiston wants to keep as many areas open to the public as possible, urging visitors to use their best judgment if they plan to visit the forest.
“We know that there are a lot of people who had planned trips to the Greater Yellowstone area and are now having to adjust itineraries because of closures,” said McQuiston, pointing out that the Shoshone National Forest remains open to visitors.
“The Washakie and Wind River Ranger districts of the Shoshone National Forest have not been as impacted as the northern portion of the Shoshone, and there are wonderful recreational opportunities on that end of the Shoshone as well,” McQuiston added.
Thompson said there are four campgrounds currently still open in the Wapiti District and one more will open at the beginning of July.
“The forest itself does not have any damage to any developed recreation sites,” Thompson said, with the exception of the three campgrounds that are experiencing flooding. “So those all still exist for people to go enjoy. We do understand that there are some washouts that are unsafe for people to cross, so we don’t want people to go through areas that are not safe for them to go out and come back. But there is still a huge amount of the forest available for recreation.”
Thompson said Shoshone National Forest staff will continue to evaluate the situation and will respond to changing conditions, getting information out to the public as soon as possible. Visitors should plan ahead and visit the Shoshone National Forest website (http://www.fs.usda.gov/shoshone) and Facebook page (US Forest Service – Shoshone National Forest) for updates on any areas that may be closed or impacted.