Project Details

Using technology to ensure area safety while preserving natural beauty.

Client: Black Hills National Forest Service
Time Span: 2016
Location: Cook Lake Recreational Area, Sundance, Wyoming

Related Service Areas

Mining & Energy

Related Solutions

Instrumentation, Monitoring & Field Services


The beautiful Cook Lake Recreation Area is 25 miles east of Devils Tower near Sundance, Wyoming. Traveling to the lake’s secluded campground requires a 20-mile drive on gravel roads. Unfortunately, the area's landslide issues have threatened accessibility, and as a result, the lake has been closed several times in the past.

In 1997, the southwest slope of Cook Lake underwent a massive slope failure. Nearly 10 years later, survey data indicated that the landslide was still exhibiting some movement.  In 2016, the Black Hills National Forest Service selected RESPEC to design a solution. Our primary goal was to design and install a real-time monitoring and warning system to protect people at the recreational area and downstream.

RESPEC’s team overcame installation challenges, such as rocky terrain, heavy forestation, and drilling monitoring wells in unconventional locations. We installed specialized sensors to monitor ground movement at five sites in the landslide area, installed tiltmeters on the surface, and placed inclinometers and piezometers in two wells that were drilled to a depth of 200 feet. Inclinometers were set in each borehole near the landslide slip plane, and a piezometer was grouted in each hole below the water table. Using spread-spectrum radio, instrumentation devices at the five sites communicated with one another and the base site, which was located away from the landslide. A satellite terminal sent data from the base site to RESPEC’s servers. Sending the client real-time data about landslide movement was achieved by using Eagle.io, an online communication and visualization application that displays remotely collected data. Our solution also allows the client to customize dashboards for data visualization, download data as .csv files, and set thresholds. If thresholds are exceeded, alarms notify recipients via a warning text message and email.

The RESPEC team is proud to contribute to the Cook Lake Recreation Area's safety.