HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — After an Appalachian Trail hiker was killed last weekend by a falling tree, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said Wednesday it would temporarily close eight overnight shelters and campgrounds on Maryland’s section of the trail for tree inspection and maintenance.
The only open overnight area along Maryland’s 40-mile segment is the Dahlgren Campground about a mile south of Boonsboro, the department said.
The shelters will reopen as the work is completed, Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina said.
Jason Parish, 36, of Philadelphia died Sunday when a tree felled by strong winds crashed on top of him near the Ed Garvey Shelter near the southern end of the Maryland trail segment. A hiking companion, Michael Sparks, said the tree was dead and had been marked with a pink ribbon, apparently meant to identify it for cutting.
“As park rangers, we are deeply saddened by the tragic loss on Sunday,” Settina said. “As the hiking season gets underway, we are taking immediate precautionary action to thoroughly assess and address any potential hazards at AT shelters and campsites.”
She said her agency closed the shelters in consultation with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Maryland’s partners in overseeing the trail segment.
The trail is managed cooperatively by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Officials from the National Park Service and the conservancy didn’t immediately return calls and emails from The Associated Press.
The nearly 2,200-mile footpath stretches from Georgia to Maine.