Monday, December 31, 2007

Changing needs force closure of National Forest recreation sites

When Forest Service recreation officer Jonathan Cook-Fisher looks out over the campground tucked deep into the San Bernardino Mountains, his gaze sweeps over the ponderosa pines and chirping squirrels and lands on a lopsided picnic table.

The table's chipped paint and splintered bench -- probably hacked off for kindling -- jump out at him like flames in a forest.

The dilapidated table is one of many signs of neglect at Tent Peg Group Campground, Cook-Fisher said. Broken wooden parking lot barriers, inaccessible fire rings and sediment runoff threatening endangered species downstream also plague the camp five miles down a rutted dirt road from Green Valley Lake.

Tent Peg's lagging maintenance, difficult access and a lack of visitors will likely spell the end of this '60s-era campground, one of four San Bernardino National Forest campgrounds and picnic sites targeted for closure over the next five years.

Under the gun to save money, ranger districts across the country have performed sweeping recreation assessments to reshape facilities to fit shifting interests among visitors and get rid of what doesn't work anymore.
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