A common view in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, which attracts visitors from all corners of the globe each year. (KATY NESBITT/The Observer)
Warmer temperatures showcase beauty in Eagle Cap, Wallowa Mountains
JOSEPH — The dramatic views of the Hells Canyon and the Eagle Cap range of the Wallowa Mountains draw visitors each year from around the county and around the globe.
As the snow recedes and summer seasonal employees join the ranks of Joseph’s U.S. Forest Service staff, campgrounds and visitor sites are prepared for the summer season.
While many campgrounds and public sites remain open year-round, they are not maintained in the winter. Some campgrounds’ openings are delayed in the spring where hazard trees threaten visitor safety. Curt Booher, Wallowa Mountains office recreation manager, said those trees have to be removed by employees certified to use chain saws.
“We don’t send people out there without training,” Booher said.
Of the 25 developed campgrounds on the north zone of the Wallowa-Whitman, three have gates. “We try to let people know that even though they aren’t closed, hazards exist,” Booher said. “We don’t have the staff to patrol in the off-season.”
“We want to provide a safe environment. There might be some delays as we cut hazard trees out and if those sites aren’t safe there are other sites available,” said Dan Ermovick, recreation manager for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
With more than 200 developed sites across the forest, it can be a daunting task.
Booher said grants have helped this year’s funding for recreation staff who maintain developed campgrounds and picnic areas, clear trail and wilderness rangers assigned to the Eagle Caps and Seven Devils range in Idaho.
Grants specifically earmarked for off-highway vehicles are improving a trail system in the Sled Springs area on the north end of the Wallowa Valley District.
For the full story, see Friday's issue of The Observer