Ratcliff camping areas remain closed for another hunting season

HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - 20 hunting camps fill the DavyCrockett national forest and during opening weekend hunters flocked to campslike Neches Bluff and Bushy Creek.

"It was really full when we got in, it washard find a spot," said Timothy Six, Hunter.

But one camp hasn't opened sinceApril of 2011.

The Ratcliff Recreation Area hasseen a hurricane, tornado and tough climate changes in the past five years.

District Ranger Gerald Lawrencesays U.S. Forest Service crews worked diligently to get the day use areasre-opened but there is still work to be done on the camping areas.

"There was a severe drought that killedhundreds of trees in those camping loops," said Lawrence.

Lawrence says the U.S. ForestService brought in a contractor to remove hundreds of dead trees.

"Beyond the dead trees we still have got to goin and clean up the individual camp sites," said Lawrence.

Crews are currently working onwater lines, lift stations and removing debris but officials say there is noset date for when the hunting camp will be reopened.

"It depends on the funding we are working on gettingthe funding in place to fix our water lines, lifting stations all the things weneeds to make it safe for the public," said Lawrence.

Lawrence says even though theRatcliff camping area is closed there is no shortage of camping areasthroughout the Davy Crockett.

Hunter Timothy Six says sinceRatcliff has remained closed he's had to get familiar with other areas in theforest.

"The only difference is you don't have theconvenience facilities but when you're out here hunting you learn to rough it alittle bit," said Six.

As hunters learn to adapt forestcrews are still hard at work to restore the Ratcliff Recreation Area to itsformer glory.

U.S. Forest Service officialssays there is no hunting allowed in recreation areas or immediately near huntercamps.

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