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Insect-damaged trees cut down at popular New Meadows-area campground

The trees had been infested with Douglas fir tussock moths and spruce budworms, which can kill them and leave them unstable.
Credit: Idaho Department of Lands
The Last Chance Campground near New Meadows.

Forest officials and contractors are working together to remove trees that have been infected and damaged by insects at a campground in the Payette National Forest.

The logging operation at the Last Chance Campground near New Meadows comes after infestations of Douglas fir tussock moths and spruce budworms. The insects damage and even kill trees, leaving them unstable. 

Stephanie Merrill, Sales Prep Forester with the Payette National Forest, said officials wanted to be proactive about getting rid of the trees before warmer weather brings campers to the area. Dead or unstable trees can topple over without warning. 

"The impacted trees are dying and could pose a hazard to campers this summer, creating the possibility that the campground might not be safe for use this season,” she said.

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A local contractor was brought in to cut down the affected trees. Workers are using GPS maps and paint to minimize damage and make sure the correct trees are getting logged.

George Nuesse, a program specialist with the Idaho Department of Lands, said the heavy snow in the area is actually helpful to crews. 

"We're doing it in the snow to minimize the impacts on the ground - there's probably five foot of snow here," he said. "With the snow falling and Goose Creek and the amount of water here, it seemed like it was the right idea to do this with the snowpack and frozen ground." 

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Nuesse said that there will be plenty of trees left at Last Chance Campground for campers to enjoy. 

"I'm hoping that the public will hardly even notice that we did a lot of work up here,"  he said. "We're just removing Grand Fir, so there's not a lot of trees being removed - just targeting the insect-diseased trees, the trees with dead tops, so there will still be a lot of trees left in the campground."

Credit: Idaho Department of Lands