Campground gets faceliftSince the 1960s, the Burning Coal Vein campground has provided a place of refuge and relaxation for many a camper, horseback rider and hunter.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
Since the 1960s, the Burning Coal Vein campground has provided a place of refuge and relaxation for many a camper, horseback rider and hunter.
With an approximate $200,000 facelift using U.S. Forest Service appropriated funds, slated to be completed next week, the changes will bring a modern twist to a primitive campground.
Steven Volesky, civil engineer for the U.S. Forest Service and Dakota Prairie Grasslands, who has been overseeing the project for the past six weeks, said renovations include recycled plastic portable picnic tables, fire rings, resurfaced access roads and additional camper space.
“We have just constructed eight back-in camping spurs (20 feet by 60 feet) with attached living pads which are wheelchair assessable,” Volesky said.
Volesky said a water-well was drilled last fall, however some additional sample testing needs to be completed before the hand pump is added.
“The water well may not be up and running but the rest of the campground will be open by the week of the 10th (August),” Volesky said. “We are hoping for the 8th.”
Paula Johnston, U.S. Forest Service and Dakota Prairie Grasslands recreation program manager, said the addition of the water-well last year adds many more options for campers as well as the forest service.
Located on the south end of the Maah Daah Hey Trail, the campground updates are simultaneous to the 45-mile addition being added to the trail, which should be completed next year, said Volesky. Previous to the mileage addition, the trail ended near the campground.
“A lot of these folks have been up and down that (trail) a couple three times already,” Volesky said. “Once that area, the Maah Daah Hey Trail and campground are complete, it’s going to see a substantial increase in visitors just because people will have new areas to go and explore.”
Kiosks with information ranging from hiking and weather changes to plant life and camping safety tips will be located throughout the campground and at the trailhead, Johnston said.
The Burning Coal Vein campground can be accessed two ways, either by traveling 15 miles north of Amidon off U.S. Highway 85 or by venturing 10 miles south of Belfield to campground signage, then down an additional 25 miles of gravel road, Volesky said.
Once the renovations are complete, the campground will be a fee-site, at a rate of $10 per night. Fees are paid in a “fee-tube,” based on an honor system, Volesky said.
The Forest Service has no record of the number of campers gracing the campground per year as this will be the first year for entrance fees and car counters, Johnston said.
Fred Tooz, owner of Tooz Construction, said the company is wrapping up work at the camp site, where it has been resurfacing access roads and camp sites for the last month.
“When you first crest that hill … and look at that mountain range down through there, you’d swear you were someplace by Sheridan, Wyo.,” Tooz said. “It’s absolutely gorgeous.”