Flooding/Mudslides Delay Washington Camping Season
Flooding and mudslide damage on U.S. Forest Service roads and campgrounds could change the plans of thousands of recreationists hoping to spend Memorial Day weekend in the Cle Elum and Naches ranger districts of southern Washington.
Roads and campgrounds in the Manastash and Taneum are expected to remain inaccessible at least through Memorial Day on the Cle Elum district, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.
"Well, nobody's going to get into the Manastash anytime soon," said Cle Elum Ranger District spokeswoman Nancy Jones. "The creek has moved from one side of the valley to the other. Where the road used to be at the Sno-Park is where the creek is now."
That means campers can't reach Buck Meadows, Manastash Camp or Riders Camp. The district's largest campground — Kachess, with roughly 160 sites — was already inaccessible because of snow and also will not open for Memorial Day.
The latest storm damage also closed the Taneum Road at the Taneum Campground. The campground itself is also closed because of the damage, as is the popular "back door" access into the Taneum via Peoh Point (Road 3350).
"This is going to have a huge impact," said Tim Foss, the Cle Elum District trails and wilderness manager. "Memorial Day weekend is less than two weeks away and there is no access to Buck Meadows, Taneum Junction or Gooseberry Flats. You can't get to any national forest land, roads or trails south of I-90 on the Cle Elum Ranger District."
Things aren't much better on the Naches Ranger District, with Rock Creek/Road 1702 closed and the creek running right down the middle.
The same river-down-the-road has also replaced the bottom portion of Milk Creek/Road 1708, a popular alternative to the Little Naches. Three additional washouts above that portion have been reported.
Marge Hutchinson, South Zone engineer for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, said that of all of the state's national forest land, the stretch between Chinook Pass and the Taneum and Manastash areas was hardest hit.
"I don't know yet whether this will be declared a disaster area," Hutchinson said. "If it's not declared an ERFO (Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads) disaster, I don't have any money to fix anything."
Meanwhile, Benton County declared a Flood Emergency Tuesday (May 17), as the Yakima River overflowed its banks, KVEW-TV, Kennewick, reported.
The Yakima River was expected to reach 16 feet today.
As of Tuesday, the river was at about 14.5 feet.
On Tuesday, fast rising flood waters from the Yakima River blanketed farms, roads, and made their way to a Benton City RV park.
"We're hooking up and getting out because it's really coming up fast, and a lot of people have moved out already and it's just real fast" said Jodi Krantz, Benton City resident.
Krantz and about a dozen other residents at the Beach RV Park relocated to higher ground in the park, as the flood waters quickly crept up to their doorsteps.
"I didn't expect it to come up this fast. It's coming quite rapidly" said Gloria Black, Beach RV Park manager.
And emergency crews say it will get worse.