Forest Service deals with damage to trails in southwestern NDU.S. Forest Service Dakota Prairie Grasslands leaders are starting to get a clearer picture of damage to western North Dakota public trails and roads caused by an excessively moist spring. They are not finding clear trails.
By: By Jennifer McBride, The Dickinson Press
U.S. Forest Service Dakota Prairie Grasslands leaders are starting to get a clearer picture of damage to western North Dakota public trails and roads caused by an excessively moist spring. They are not finding clear trails.
“We’ve had boots on the ground and planes in the air since,” Medora District Ranger Ron Jablonski said.
A crew flew over the Maah Daah Hey Trail on Thursday, June 23, in an effort to identify and map locations damaged by landslides, according to a press release.
The northern half, or about 45-miles, of the Maah Daah Hey Trail, was significantly damaged this spring, Forest Service Recreation Manager Paula Johnston said from her Bismarck office Wednesday.
There are portions of trail with 10 to 50 feet of soil washed onto them and there are worse scenarios, including a spot which once was a trail through a woody draw. Now at least 100 yards is covered with trees, brush and shrubs.
“It looks like there was an avalanche there,” she said. “Everything is just topsy-turvy and mooshed together.”
The service has also received reports from trail-users informing them of washouts. No injuries have been reported.
Now the challenge is piecing the trail back together.
The question is will crews put a band-aid on the damage where there is a chance it could happen again or find a way to reroute or rework the trail so it won’t happen again, Jablonski said.
The area with the most damage is the portion of trail from CCC Campground to West River Road, the northern 45 miles of the 96-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail.
“It just shows me how fluid the Badlands really is,” Johnston said. “I honestly never thought ‘we shouldn’t build trails here.’
“We want to provide opportunities to see the Badlands and this cool country we have in our backyard. It shows how fluid and fragile this area is.”
Those interested in using the trail may spend a lot of time picking through the trail and it really won’t be the experience they are expecting, Johnston said. However, some areas are in better shape than others.
- The crew has cleared the trailhead next to Bully Pulpit Golf Course for about 15 miles.
- Buffalo Gap Trail, which is roughly 12 miles (near the Buffalo Gap Campground) is in pretty good shape
- Summit Trail is closed. It may require a reroute or heavy equipment to clear it.
“We are interested in issues of public safety and are anxious to hear what folks are finding,” Jablonski said.
The service asks that people report damage to the Dickinson office at 701-227-7800, or to the Watford City office at 701-482-2393.