How to help restore campgrounds and trails after damage from record-breaking snow

Jun 23, 2023, 5:22 PM | Updated: 5:30 pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — After heavy damage from record-breaking snowpack, here are ways Utahns can give back and help campgrounds and trails reopen.

Following a year of record-breaking snow and numerous avalanches, several campgrounds in Utah remain closed for damage causing summer plans to change due to heavy debris and snapped trees.

David Whittekiend, Forest Supervisor of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache Forest explained that several campgrounds were opening later this year.
“With avalanches we had debris swept down into campgrounds, so we had a lot of material deposited,” Whittekiend said. “We also had damage to the facilities: so picnic tables and sites were filled with debris and broken, outhouses that were knocked over. So avalanches in addition to heavy snowfall dropped a lot of trees in recreation sites, across trails, damaged fences, there was a lot of damage just from heavy snowfall and tree fall.”


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Several viewers reached out to KSL TV and asked how they could help.

“Every forest in the state would accept volunteers,” Whittekiend said.” We have a very robust volunteer program on Uinta-Wasatch-Cache was one of the most volunteered on forest in the entire national forest system. So we’re always looking for volunteers.”

However, Whittekiend said volunteers have to sign-up, they can’t just show up to a campground or trail with a chainsaw.

“Before anyone goes out and does work on the forest, we ask that they do contact a district office and sign a volunteer agreement we don’t just send folks out to work, we ask them to sign an agreement so we know where they’re working and so that we can ensure that it’s done in a safe and effective way,” Whittekiend said.

There’s actually training required for anyone to use a chainsaw on fallen trees.

“Don’t just go out and start working on the forest,” Whittekiend said. “…in the meantime projects like adopt a trail, if they know how to use a shovel or hand equipment like that, there’s a lot that can be done on the trail with a good hand crew.”

Fortunately, there’s a plethora of other ways to help out that doesn’t require any training, only a volunteer agreement which can be found here.  With 2.1 million acres in the Uinta-Wasatch – Cache National Forest, there’s plenty of work to do.

“We have a lot of volunteer opportunities on the Uinta-Wasatch – Cache. People can come out and work on trails, they can help rebuild fences, they can help fix the streams,” he said.

Those who want to work at a specific trail or campground, should contact a specific ranger district for that area.

Ranger District links divided by forest:

“We have volunteer opportunities on all of our ranger districts and we have volunteer coordinators that can guide people in the direction they want to go,” Whittekiend said.

The Forest Service accepts groups for volunteer projects as well.

“We’re not limited to just volunteering on recreation areas, we bring people on to work on wildlife projects, and rangeland projects, we have a lot of dedicated hunters that work on the forest, so you can get credit that way,” he said.

Whittekiend said volunteers do a couple million dollars worth of work each year in Uinta-Wasatch-Cache.

“12,000 in one year, that was the biggest year we had. We led the nation in volunteers that year and then it tailed off and in Covid it dropped some,” Whittekiend said.

To become a volunteer in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest visit their volunteer site here. 

As conditions change and crews clear up campgrounds, updates on their opening can be found at recreation.gov.

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How to help restore campgrounds and trails after damage from record-breaking snow