Number of campsites reduced in Desolation Wilderness area |

Number of campsites reduced in Desolation Wilderness area

A lake in Desolation Wilderness is slated to lose more than half of its campsites in order to reduce human impacts to the environment.

Forest Service officials counted 40 sites at Lake of the Woods. They expect to reduce that number to 18 by the end of summer 2004.

“Basically it’s kind of a free-for-all,” said Jennifer Ebert, wilderness resource manager at the Eldorado National Forest, which, along with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, manages Desolation.

“The campsites are close to the lake and have gotten to be really large sites with bare ground and soil compaction that’s impacting water quality.”

An environmental study completed in 1998 identified Lake of the Woods and four lakes at Desolation as being in need of restoration work.

The number of campsites at Eagle, Grouse and Hemlock lakes have already been reduced to help protect the wilderness.

Grouse’s sites decreased from 10 to four. Hemlock had six established campsites, now it has three, Ebert said. The fifth lake targeted for restoration work is Avalanche, which is near Horsetail Falls. Work on it will begin after Lake of the Woods is finished.

Each project costs thousands of dollars, but the real challenge, Ebert said, is rounding up enough labor, tools and time to get the job done. Restoration at Lake of the Woods was scheduled to happen this year but limited resources forced Ebert to postpone the project.

The work is paying off, though.

“It’s been pretty successful,” she said. “The areas come back pretty quick once you break up the soil.”

Desolation Wilderness consists of 63,960 acres situated southwest of Lake Tahoe.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at

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