Major Wind Event Causes Widespread Damage
Contact: Maureen Finnerty, 760-924-5500
An unprecidented wind storm caused significant damage in Devils Postpile and in the Reds Meadow Valley in November. An enormous number of trees have fallen throughout the Reds Meadow Valley, many of them in the 2-3 foot diameter range, with some 4 feet or over. Over 100 trees fell across the Reds Meadow Road and the full extent of the road damage is currently being assessed. Structures at Reds Meadow Resort, Reds Meadow Campground, Devils Postpile National Monument, and Agnew Meadows Campground were hit by trees and damaged. All campgrounds, trails, and trailheads have downed or partially downed trees that need to be removed.
Species of downed trees vary, but it seems that most downed trees are red and white fir. There are a few areas of lodgepole blowdown lower in the valley in campgrounds. Many of the trees have fallen on steep slopes and present logistical and safety challenges.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area worked with Forest Service staff to clear a path down the Reds Meadow Road to facilitate access for cleanup efforts and to ensure the ability of snow-cats to rescue lost skiers and snowboarders. Mammoth Mountain, the Forest Service, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, and the National Park Service are all working together to clear roadways to minimize interference with spring snow removal operations.
The Town of Mammoth Lakes is providing assistance with heavy equipment on days that Forest Service engineering crews must use their equipment elsewhere. The number of down and hazardous trees present has prevented the Forest Service from entering some of the campgrounds and recreation sites. Assessments continue and Forest Service crews will be taking advantage of the weather window to clear secondary roads and gather information that will help determine how to best deal with the large volume of downed trees.
Given the extent of damage and the number of trees that need to be removed, there is a high probability that the spring opening of the Reds Meadow Road as well as Devils Postpile and Reds Meadow Valley Campgrounds, trails, and day use facilities will be delayed.
The winter closure of the Reds Road is currently in place at the Mammoth Mountain Inn. However, the road and valley remain open to visitors wanting to hike, ski, sowshoe, or snowmobile in, but use is strongly discouraged at this time given the hazards that exist and the cleanup efforts that are ongoing. Many hazards will persist through the winter and winter visitors are strongly encouraged to consider the hazards in the area and use extreme caution.