Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest gets campgrounds ready to use

OCONTO COUNTY – Camping season is right around the corner.

But before campgrounds are opened each site has to be safe enough for campers to use.

With a pocket full of ribbons, Beverly Ruether, a forestry technician with the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, marks dead trees in the Bagley Rapids Campground.

“You do not want a dead tree falling on someone’s camper, or them or them so it’s for safety reasons,” said Ruether.

With a well trained eye, Ruether says hazardous trees are easy to spot.

“We have a lot of jack pine in here and the jack pines typically break off,” Bagley said. “The crowns get too big and we have to remove them.”

She points to another dead tree.

“You can tell by looking at the top of it. If you look up at the top of it it’s completely dead. There’s no greenery at all,” Bageley said.

The Lakewood-Laona District has eight camp sites and within the next few days Ruether says between 40 and 50 trees will be tagged and cut down.

“These last two years probably are an anomaly,” said Jeff Seefeldt, district ranger for Lakewood-Laona.

As snow sits on top of picnic tables and fire pits Seefeldt says Mother Nature almost pushed back the opening of the campgrounds in the area.

“Typically we’re ready to go a week ago. We just had two late springs in a row,” Seefeldt said.

The lingering winter weather is keeping recreation trails within the Lakewood-Laona District closed until May 15.

“The frost is just recently come out of the ground so the trails are real squishy and real soft,” Seefeltd said.

Seefeldt says ATV clubs need time to check the trails.

Just up the road is gas station in the town of Mountain where Nora Powell works.

She says she’s ready for the trails and campgrounds to open up because it’s better for business.

“We get, I would guess anywhere from 300-400 people on a shift,” said Powell.

But it looks like Powell might have to wait a little bit longer for warmer temperatures and leftover snow to melt.

Ranger Seefeldt tells FOX 11 an estimated 31,000 people camp on the National Forest land in Oconto County from May through September.

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