Crews clear trails, roads in the Wayne

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2003

Crews from across the northeast are pitching in to help the Wayne National Forest's Ironton District clear the Lake Vesuvius and Hanging Rock trails and recreation areas as quickly as possible.

Last Friday, the U.S. Forest Service temporarily closed all recreation areas and roads within the Ironton Ranger District because of numerous fallen trees caused by the ice storm three weeks ago. All trails are closed to horses, bikes, ATVs and hiking traffic until April 15 or further notice.

"All these areas are closed for the public's safety," said Mike Freidhof, assistant ranger for the Ironton District. "A lot of trees are down everywhere. It is not just a tree here or there."

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About 20 workers from other national forests across the northeast part of the country began clearing the trails Wednesday. The forest workers will divide into two-man crews and will be working with about five Ironton district employees to clear more than 100 miles of trails during the next two weeks.

"I have only been here a couple of years, but from talking with people who have spent their whole career here, this is the worst they have ever seen in the district as a whole," Freidhof said,

The closure includes all campgrounds and trails in the Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area and also all of the Hanging Rock and Pine Creek ATV trails. Roads maintained by the forest service, including Forest Road 105 that enters the Hanging Rock ATV trails, Pine Creek South Road and Telegraph Ridge Road, are also closed until further notice.

Clearing the roads will be contracted out. Bids were received Monday. Bids should be awarded and work should begin later this week, he said.

Freidhof said it would have been well into summer if the Ironton district tried to clear all these areas without any assistance.

Timber Ridge and Timber Ridge Lake are still open because the damage was not as extensive, he said.

All areas will be opened as soon as the cleanup is completed in the individual areas. Announcements will be made when the closure is lifted on a specific area.