Nevada Campground Gets Major Overhaul

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November 23, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Despite bristles from unhappy campers, about $27 million in plans are under way to temporarily close and revamp Lee Canyon campgrounds and recreation venues located west of Las Vegas, Nev.

Last summer, the U.S. Forest Service sought public input about plans for the proposed face-lift to the Dolomite and McWilliams campgrounds and Old Mill Picnic Area, three Spring Mountains National Recreation Area sites on state Route 156 in Lee Canyon, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area  covers over 316,000 acres.

Its initial proposal was to close the three popular campgrounds for two summers and eliminate 74 campsites, more than half of the total space offered in Lee Canyon. The Dolomite and McWilliams campgrounds and the Old Mill Picnic Area are three of seven sites reserved for camping.

The plan called for the Dolomite and McWilliams sites to be a combined 70-space campground with upgraded amenities. The Old Mill Picnic Area was to be designed for day use only and also receive face-lifts. The changes were to close the popular destinations for the 2013 and 2014 summers.

An estimated 53,000 people visit the three sites for camping and day use each year, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Judy Suing said in August.

But plans have been tweaked, which could mean some campsites might be spared and closures into 2014 might not be necessary, agency lead engineer Mike Balen said.

Plans are moving forward to consolidate the Dolomite and McWilliams campgrounds, but more sites might be added, Balen said. He said that the new plots would be within current campground boundaries.

The Old Mill Picnic Area will be stripped of its overnight capacities, but it is to be joined with its neighboring Foxtail Group Picnic Area via a new access loop, Balen said.

New site furniture, asphalt, bathrooms, campfire rings, host sites, water systems, trails and informational signs are planned for each site. Modifications for those with disabilities also will be considered in construction, Suing said in August.

About $16 million of the $27 million project cost is reserved for the Dolomite and McWilliams campgrounds changes, Balen said.

One thing is certain, he said. Changes have to be made to the antiquated venues.

"They have exceeded their design life," he said. "All the facilities are due to be completely replaced."

An environmental assessment of migratory bird patterns is being conducted before the agency can seek construction bids.

"We're at the point of conceptual design right now," Balen said.

Construction is expected to begin next fall.

Campers may be able to use the new sites in 2014, Balen said.

"It depends on construction," he said.

Snow play at the Foxtail Group Picnic Area will be permitted during the construction period.

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