The USFS Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest on Thursday, March 26, closed to the public all campgrounds, day-use sites and rental cabins, until further notice to protect the health and safety of forest visitors and USFS employees and volunteers.
On the Rocky Mountain Ranger District, the closure affects the following campgrounds and rental cabins:
•Wood Lake Campground
•West Fork Campground
•Falls Creek (Trailhead and Campground)
•Vanderiet Memorial Pilots Campground
•South Fork Campground
•Mortimer Gulch Campground
•Home Gulch Campground
•Double Falls Campground
•Cave Mountain Campground
•Mill Falls Campground
•West Fork Cabin
Campgrounds closed on the Lincoln Ranger District are:
• Copper Creek Campground
• Aspen Grove Campground
• Aspen Grove Group Use Site
The USFS is contacting people who have already paid to rent the Kenck and West Fork cabins and will issue refunds.
“As we work through an unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety of the public is our number one priority. This closure order will be lifted as soon as possible,” said Forest Supervisor Bill Avey in a press release. “We did not make this decision lightly and we appreciate people’s cooperation.”
The closures will not impact other Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest trails, trailheads or dispersed camping sites which remain open at this time. The USFS asks that the public recreate responsibly and practice leave no trace principles and “pack it in-pack it out.”
“We want the public to know that the majority of the forest is still open for public access,” said Avey. “We want people to be able to get outside and stay active during these stressful times. We ask that you please recreate responsibly, don’t take unnecessary risks and practice social distancing measures.”
The Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and evaluate potential impacts and adjustments to reservations and our reservation policies through Recreation.gov. Reservation holders will be notified via email and/or cell phone text messages if there are any changes affecting their reservation. If the sites do not open, people with reservations will be fully refunded. The USFS suggests that people with reservations have a back-up plan in case the sites do not open up. In the event of delayed openings of some, part or all of the above listed recreation sites to ensure safe social distancing, renters will receive a full refund for their reservation.
The USFS also says that law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to the COVID-19 issues. High-risk activities such as rock climbing or backcountry activities that increase the chance of injury or distress for recreationists should be avoided.
The Forest continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation. As the USFS works through an unpredictable and rapidly changing environment, health and safety are the priority. The USFS is committed to supporting its communities and fulfilling its mission as all work together to minimize the impact and spread of the virus.
Those planning to use the USFS national forests should review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and focus on recreating safely while protecting themselves, USFS employees and volunteers.
For a complete list of campgrounds and site closures visit: www.fs.usda.gov/main/hlcnf or www.facebook.com/HLCNF or contact the Rocky Mountain Ranger District office in Choteau at 466-5341 or the Augusta Information Station at 562-3247.