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Published: Tuesday, 6/8/2010

Rangers shut park trails covered by storm debris

BY DENNIS HOWE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Rangers at the Maumee State Forest and Oak Openings Preserve have shut down several popular trails that were damaged during the weekend storms.

At the state forest, the all-terrain-vehicle area in Fulton County and the Tower Bridle Trail in Lucas County remained closed yesterday.

Several feet of debris covers the trails at some points, and Forest Manager Don Schmenk estimated that it may be well into the fall season before the trails reopen.

"I can't even give you a time frame," he said. "We're talking months, for sure."

Forest employees are still busy conducting a damage assessment and have not even checked out certain interior parts of the forest.

They estimated a 350-to-400-acre region of the park's 3,000 total acres has sustained the severest damage.

At Oak Openings, a 4,000-acre park two miles west of Toledo Express Airport, emergency cleanup efforts have allowed for the removal of much of the debris from the roads already. After closings Sunday and yesterday, the park will reopen today, said Scott Carpenter, public relations director.

Oak Openings Parkway, its main road, should be completely clear, enabling parkgoers to access most of the popular locations along the park's main axis.

As for the side trails, Mr. Carpenter called it a "moving target" as to when they would be up and running once again.

"Some trails are so bad that it could be a very long time," Mr. Carpenter said.

On the bright side, Mr. Schmenk said, these forests are likely to recover on their own in the coming months.

"Right now the damage looks pretty severe, but it doesn't really take that long for the forest to recover," he said.

"Saplings on the forest floor are always waiting for an opportunity to get an extra burst of light, and now that the competition is removed from above, it won't be long before a younger forest takes over."

Contact Dennis Howe at:

dhowe@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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