Volume 104, Number 52 - December 27, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Fremont Lake ready for makeover
The Fremont Lake Recreation Area isn’t looking its best lately.
The recreation area is located three miles south of Pinedale and includes the Fremont Lake campgrounds, Sandy Beach Swim and Picnic Area, multiple boat accesses and the Stuart Flat Dispersed Area.
The many amenities that lure tourists and locals alike for outdoors recreation suffer from decrepit facilities that no longer fit health and safety standards, dilapidated roads too narrow for RVs, and even illegal usage of some amenities.
That’s why the Pinedale Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest is asking for public commentary on a letter of development proposals for the recreation area, which the district released Dec. 13. The Forest Service will conduct an analysis of the recreation area this winter to officially determine how many of the proposals will be necessary to bring its components up to standard.
“Several specialists will establish the present condition of several resource areas, and the public will provide us with issues to consider,” said Pinedale District Ranger Thomas Peters last week. “Alternatives will be developed from those issues that will address the purpose and need for change.”
The proposed changes include creating a requisite 200-foot distance between campers and shoreline, expanding the main road through the campground to allow two-way access, and constructing a 70-person covered pavilion at the north end of the day-use area near Sandy Beach.
After reviewing public comment and studying the area analysis, the Forest Service will likely construct the new developments as early as spring 2009, Peters said. The proposals can be viewed at: http://www.pinedaleonline.com/news/2007/ 12/fremontlakeplan12-07.pdf. The Forest Service will accept written, faxed or emailed public commentary until Jan. 14. “Increased visitor capacity and use within this analysis is not an objective,” states the letter of proposal.
Instead, the Forest Service wants to improve the area to reduce pollution in Fremont Lake, which serves as the town’s drinking water source. The agency’s proposals are also intended to better protect Native American sites and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) facilities in the area, preserve the site’s aesthetic value and minimize impact on the mule deer migration corridor south of Fremont Lake.
“(The best case scenario would be) an outdoor experience that integrates the best of the Wind River Front with conservation of the Town of Pinedale’s municipal water supply,” Peters said.
Mindi Crabb, tourism-marketing director for the Sublette County Joint Tourism Board, said she doesn’t see anything wrong with the proposals.
“Obviously (the facilities) are dated — I’ve been there and used them myself,” Crabb said. “The idea for improvements makes sense to me.”
Crabb has also worked with the Forest Service’s landscape architect Rick Dustin out of Jackson on local projects, and she said he works well with balancing wildlife and public interests.
The 54-unit Fremont Lake Campground and most of its facilities were constructed in the ‘50s. Not only do facilities like the vault toilets no longer meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, their outdated style lowers the visual appeal of the site, Peters wrote in the proposal letter.
The paved road within the campground is also deteriorating, and its narrow width doesn’t accommodate most RVs or trailers. The Forest Service proposed to widen the road to allow two-way access, as well as construct a bike bath alongside.
The agency also suggested redesigning and enlarging the campground itself to allow space for 50 to 55 RV and trailer campsites. Campsites near shoreline would be replaced with day-use parking, with a new 70-person group site within the campground.
The proposals also include replacing and moving the vault toilet at the Sandy Beach Swim and Picnic Area to the lower picnic area, and constructing a 70-person covered pavilion. The agency’s landscaper would also enlarge the upper northern picnic area parking lot to accommodate day-use groups, and the replace picnic tables and fire grills to meet ADA standards.
The CCC built the swim area in the ‘30s, so the new facility designs would follow a CCC-era theme.
Peters wrote that individuals and families have been using the Stewart Flat/Pine Creek area for temporary residence, an illegal activity causing sanitation and enforcement issues. The Forest Service proposed making the Stewart Flat area a day-use site, with overnight camping prohibited year-round. The landscaper would also create a series of non-motorized interpretive trails through the area.
“I know that locals in the area will have concern with the change in use, but it sounds like (the developments) will add nice additional group facilities and deal with the mess of people driving around and creating mud bogs between the boat ramp and the dam,” Crabb said. “I personally think it’s better to close it off to vehicular traffic. I’m sure that will be an area locals will enjoy.”
Although the Forest Service hasn’t heard complaints about drinking water conditions, Peters said the Forest Service could better ensure the water quality of Fremont Lake by restricting recreation on and around the water, specifically prohibiting camping and dogs within 200 feet of the shore.
“The issue is one of protecting the municipal water supply of the Town of Pinedale now and into the future,” Peters said. For visual purposes, the Forest Service might also remove or consolidate existing boat docks and launch sites within Fremont Lake South Recreation Residence Tract, as well as treat the west side of the lake for the damage caused by the Pole Fire this July.
Members of the public can submit their comments to Pinedale District Ranger, Pinedale Ranger District, 29 East Fremont Lake Road, P.O. Box 220 in Pinedale, or fax to 307-367-5750. Electronic documents should be submitted to email@example.com.
Crabb said that though the Forest Service isn’t specifically aiming to bring in more tourists, improving the recreation area will likely have that result.
“Improving facilities generally improves the economy,” she said. “If anything, there would be positive impacts. Camping is the one area where we can accommodate more visitors.”
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