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3 North Fork campgrounds to remain closed for 2021

by JOSH MCDONALD
Hagadone News Network | May 27, 2021 1:00 AM

The North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River has been a growing summer hot spot over the past few seasons, but this year it could be even tighter quarters for those seeking refuge on the river.

The Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District announced in a press release last week that three popular campgrounds along the North Fork corridor will be closed for the entire season as the U.S. Forest Service completes some renovations and cleans up some hazardous trees.

The three sites that will be closed are the popular Kit Price, Bumblebee and Big Hank Campgrounds.

Kit Price is located roughly 30 miles north of I-90 and will undergo a complete redesign and renovation, including some brand new amenities such as fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, shade facilities and water holding tanks.

The project is funded through the Great American Outdoors Act, as well as grant monies from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.

With expanded facilities will also come expanded access, so the road up to the site will be expanded to accommodate bigger vehicles, including recreation vehicles and the roads within the campground will be chip sealed.

It will also have extra parking and will meet all accessibility requirements.

“We are very excited to see these renovations and upgrades underway at one of our most popular campgrounds,” said District Ranger Dan Scaife. “We understand that closing the campground this year will be a disappointment for some, but this temporary inconvenience will provide lasting improvements and a better camping experience for countless people for years to come.”

Bumblebee Campground is the closest to I-90 which makes it one of the more popular sites for visitors to take up seasonal residency, however it took several big hits during January’s historic windstorm and several trees ended up being uprooted and strewn about through the campsite.

USFS crews will clean up the fallen trees, as well as survey the remaining standing trees and address any that may have been damaged.

Several dead and dying trees are at the top of the priority list for Big Hank — where droughts during the historically dry summers of 2015 and 2017 caused heavy stress on the trees and enabled disease spread that has killed and/or weakened several other trees in the area.

Big Hank is just over 40 miles up the North Fork.

The USFS has goals for all of the sites to be reopened by the spring of 2022.

The big question for the locals is whether or not the lack of available camping will result in less people flocking to the area for the upcoming season, or will the same number of people try to fit into the remaining sites along the North Fork.

The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law last August and will enable national parks and other federal lands to repair and upgrade vital infrastructure and facilities that will enrich the visitor experience, protect resources and enable increased access for all visitors.

Information about camping opportunities on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/ipnf/recreation.