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Some parts of Custer Gallatin forest reopen; closures on Yellowstone River announced

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West Fork Rock Creek bridge

The West Fork Rock Creek bridge has dropped about 3 feet after being washed out during the June 13 flash flood.

The Custer Gallatin National Forest is reopening some areas following historic floods last week, while closures along the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone and Yellowstone River were announced.

Several sites on the Custer Gallatin were damaged – including bridge washouts – and will remain closed. These include the Main Mill Creek as well as the East and West forks of Mill Creek; the Main Boulder including the Chippy Park, Hicks Park and Snowbank campgrounds along with Fourmile and Six Mile above Gold Prize. In the Gardiner District there is a motorized-use closure to Yankee Jim and Joe Brown trailheads and Bear Creek bridge over Darroch Creek.

Three fishing access sites on the Yellowstone River north of Gardiner that are maintained by the Forest Service – McConnell, Cinnabar and Yankee Jim – were also badly damaged.

Photos provided by the agency show a washout on the West Rosebud Creek Road, which accesses NorthWestern Energy’s Mystic Lake Dam and the Forest Service’s popular trailhead to the lake and beyond. Another photo showed the West Fork Rock Creek bridge had dropped 3 feet after being washed out behind the abutment.

Following the June 13 flooding, the Forest Service closed the Beartooth, Gardiner and Yellowstone ranger districts to all recreation. The Pryor Mountains and Gallatin District remained open.

Clarks Fork Canyon Road

The road up the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River canyon has been washed out. The route provides access to the popular Morrison Jeep Trail.

To the south on the Shoshone National Forest, the Forest Service has closed the Clarks Fork Canyon Road, Forest Service Road 119, the Morrison Jeep Trail and Forest Service Road 120.

“This isn’t a simple washout that is easily repaired. This will take a significant amount of work and in some areas reconstruction of the road,” said Wapiti, Clarks Fork, and Greybull District Ranger Casey McQuiston in a statement.

In southeast Montana, the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks is reporting flood damage and closures along the Yellowstone River. 

The upper parking area at Intake fishing access site near Glendive is open, but beyond the parking area only walk-in traffic is permitted. Those wishing to participate in the ongoing paddlefish season are advised that FWP staff will be onsite, however the fish cutting station will be closed through the weekend.

Due to flooding, the Bureau of Land Management has closed Howrey Island Recreation Area to all activity. Because of this closure, access to the adjacent Myers Bridge FAS and boat ramp is restricted.

Due to flooding, Isaac Homestead Wildlife Management Area near Hysham is closed to motorized vehicle access. Walk-in traffic is allowed, but there is water across the road.

Motorized vehicle access to Amelia Island FAS near Hysham is closed, but walk-in traffic to the fishing access site and to the adjacent wildlife management area is allowed.

At Rosebud East FAS near Forsyth, flooding has prompted closure of the campground to overnight camping and motorized vehicle access. Walk-in traffic is allowed. The day use area is open, but the fishing pier may have temporary closures due to flooding.

The Rosebud West FAS near Forsyth is closed to motorized vehicles, but walk-in traffic is allowed.

Flooding has closed motorized vehicle access to Black Bridge FAS near Glendive. Walk-in traffic is allowed, but there is water across the road.

Aerial and ground crews are now assessing the damage to infrastructure across the Custer Gallatin National Forest, which includes the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, just north of Yellowstone National Park.

The information gathered will be provided to the Federal Highways Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads Program (ERFO) as part of a request for emergency assistance, as well as to help prioritize and seek other funding for recreational facilities or administrative sites damaged by flood waters, the Forest Service wrote in a press release.

A Forest Service spokesperson said the agency will also be looking for other sources of funding to help repair damage to recreation facilities.

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