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Removal of trees part of routine maintenance
Campground set to open Saturday
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County officials say the removal of 16 trees is part of the routine maintenance needed as workers prepare to open the campground of War Hill Park this weekend.

"The trees are either obstructing ingress and egress to the campsites or they are obstructing the sides for newer campers," said Dawson County Manager Cindy Campbell.

Cutting down the trees, however, has at least one nearby homeowner saying the measure, which makes way for larger RVs to utilize the campground, does not fall in line with the county's plan for War Hill to be a passive park.

"There is a plan that was paid for by the taxpayers in place for War Hill Park, and this short term hack does not seem to gel with it," she said Monday.

Graves said she is concerned that opening the campground to larger recreational vehicles could pose problems to the road, infrastructure and "critters" in the area.

"While open spaces and clear cutting are desirable for an active ball park and track and field facilities, the lake parks offer an alternative for those who enjoy a less manicured environment, including one that harmonizes with, rather than tries to control, nature and its critters," she said.

The county, which has a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage and maintain the park and campground, received approval from the corps to cut down the trees last year, according to Campbell.

The plan was also discussed last week during a meeting of the Dawson County Parks and Recreation Board of Directors, though the board, a group that works with and makes recommendations to park leadership typically on recreation issues, had no decision capabilities on the matter.

"They did not vote on the tree maintenance at the meeting; however, they did discuss it," Campbell said.

After the meeting, Graves shared her concerns with county commissioners, prompting Lisa Henson, director of Dawson County Parks and Recreation to send an email to her board "to make sure none opposed," according to Campbell.

"Three out of five responded that they recommended moving forward with the tree maintenance, while the other two did not respond," Campbell said. "Management and the park board decided to move forward with this maintenance plan to enhance the campsites at War Hill Park."

The tree removal is scheduled for this week.

"Warning signs will be placed in the area, and for safety, the general public is encouraged to avoid the areas where trees are being cut," Campbell said.

All trees cut down will be mulched for use at the park or cut up and stacked at campsites to be used by campers.