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A patch of snow is all that remains on Mount McLoughlin, visible from Howard Prairie Lake, where crews are removing downed and damaged trees from a February storm. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch

Crews clean blowdown at Howard Prairie

Contract crews are in the midst of removing nearly 100 downed or damaged trees from two Howard Prairie Lake campgrounds closed since high winds from a February storm pummeled the Dead Indian Plateau.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The heaviest damage came to Howard Prairie Lake Resort's South Loop Campground, which could open in another week for tent campers now that 86 downed or standing hazard trees are being removed.{br class="hardreturn" /}
After Jackson County crews head in next week to finish the cleanup and fill in deep holes left from removed root-wads, campers could start using the campground June 15, Jackson County Parks Manager Steve Lambert says.{br class="hardreturn" /}
In all, 84,000 board-feet of timber will be removed from the South Loop Campground — one of Howard Prairie Resort's campgrounds — as well as from the nearby Willow Point Campground and from a chunk of public land along Hyatt Lake where the former Hyatt Lake Resort once stood. (Correction: The location on Hyatt Lake has been corrected.){br class="hardreturn" /}
That's enough timber to frame nearly nine family-sized houses.{br class="hardreturn" /}
"It was a significant event, that's for sure," Lambert says.{br class="hardreturn" /}
However, plans are for the wood to form different sorts of houses within the Rogue River Basin.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The Bureau of Reclamation intends to keep the trees and snags for use in in-stream fish habitat projects the bureau is required to conduct within the Rogue River Basin as part of a federal agreement to improve habitat for wild coho salmon, which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Douglas DeFlitch, the Bureau's regional manager in Bend, says there is no current plan to sell any of the merchantable timber, but some could be sold later.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The 86 blown-down and 14 standing hazard trees were all part of the damage that resulted when wind gusts up to 70 mph tore through the Dead Indian Plateau during a Feb. 7 storm.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Once the trees are removed, Jackson County parks crews expect to do the final cleanup next week to ensure that the campsites are suitable for public use as early as the following week, Lambert says.{br class="hardreturn" /}
However, the South Loop campsites will have no electrical service and only limited potable water, Lambert says.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The bathroom and shower facilities in the center of the campground will open now that county crews have restored water and electricity to them, Lambert says.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Campers also can use the bathroom and shower facilities near the resort's jetty.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The sites will rent for $18 apiece, $10 off the price with electrical hookups, for the remainder of the season, Lambert says.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The county already has about $525,000 in grants to replace the campground's electrical and water services in time for the start of the camping season next year.{br class="hardreturn" /}
At the Willow Point Campground, crews expect the trees to be removed next week, Lambert says. Plans are to get that campground open by June 19, he says.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Cutting Edge Forestry from Phoenix has a $69,900 contract through the Bureau of Land Management to do the work, which is paid by the Bureau of Reclamation through an interagency agreement, BLM spokeswoman Chamise Kramer says.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The Bureau of Reclamation owns the land but BLM manages the trees there, Kramer says.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.{br class="hardreturn" /}

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