A windstorm that left areas of Devils Postpile National Monument littered with life-sized Pick-up Sticks could push back the spring opening of facilities and campgrounds in the monument.
The storm, which swept the monument back in November, toppled trees throughout the Reds Meadow Valley. Some of the threes measured 2-3 feet in diameter, some were as large as 4 feet across, said monument spokeswoman Maureen Finnerty.
"Over 100 trees fell across the Reds Meadow Road and the full extent of the road damage is currently being assessed," she said the other day in a release. "Structures at Reds Meadow Resort, Reds Meadow Campground, Devils Postpile National Monument, and Agnew Meadows Campground were hit by trees and damaged. All campgrounds, trails, and trailheads have downed or partially downed trees that need to be removed."
Most of the downed trees seem to be red and white fir, although lodgepole pines were knocked down lower in the valley and in and around the campgrounds, she said.
"Mammoth Mountain Ski Area worked with Forest Service staff to clear a path down the Reds Meadow Road to facilitate access for cleanup efforts and to ensure the ability of snow-cats to rescue lost skiers and snowboarders," said Ms. Finnerty. "Mammoth Mountain, the Forest Service, the town of Mammoth Lakes, and the National Park Service are all working together to clear roadways to minimize interference with spring snow removal operations."
She also noted that the "number of down and hazardous trees present has prevented the Forest Service from entering some of the campgrounds and recreation sites. Assessments continue and Forest Service crews will be taking advantage of the weather window to clear secondary roads and gather information that will help determine how to best deal with the large volume of downed trees."
Due to the time it's expected to remove the downed trees and assess the resulting damage, park officials said there is a very good chance that the spring opening of the Reds Meadow Road as well as Devils Postpile and Reds Meadow Valley Campgrounds, trails, and day use facilities will be delayed.
The winter closure of the Reds Meadow Road is currently in place at the Mammoth Mountain Inn. However, the road and valley remain open to visitors wanting to hike in, but use is strongly discouraged at this time given the hazards that exist and the cleanup efforts that are ongoing. Many hazards will persist through the winter and winter visitors are strongly encouraged to consider the hazards in the area and use extreme caution.