Campers Hear Tree Fall in the Forest
A mangled picnic table sat pinned under a fallen tree Tuesday (June 24) in Oswald West Hike-in Campground near Arch Cape, Ore.
The tree, a spruce estimated to be about 400 years old and 6.5 feet in diameter fell, disrupting and damaging four campsites, around midnight Tuesday, according to The Daily Astorian, Astoria, Ore.
Nehalem Bay State Park Manager Larry Oswald said, "We were very fortunate, That no one was injured was a miracle and we accept that."
He said the tree had been classified as a healthy tree, but also said that spruce can develop what is commonly called "heart rot" and "look as healthy as any other tree."
Police, emergency medical technicians and park staff arrived on scene as quickly as possible to assess the damage and get a head count of all the people in the campground.
When the tree fell, it started a second wave of danger by hitting a nearby cedar tree and knocking it off its base. The cedar was balanced on the limbs of yet another nearby tree and to ensure the safety of those in the park, the area around and underneath the tree, which included restrooms, was taped off to keep campers from entering the area unaware of the problem.
"Part of the problem is we have a walk-in campground that is first-come, first-serve and it is extremely full this time of year," said Oswald. "We decided not to close the site campground entirely because of the number of people in the campground."
Staff from TreeScapes Northwest was called in to assess how best to remove the cedar without damaging campsites or the restrooms in the campground. Oswald said the falling of the spruce directly damaged four campsites.
Oswald said that the site being cleared within 16 hours of the initial report of the spruce falling is "pretty amazing."
"I can't thank my team enough, the staff of the Nehalem Bay State Park, and the team involved," said Oswald. "We're very happy we had a happy ending."