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Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 9:12 AM

Against the deaths and other ice storm toll on homes and businesses, it might not seem like so much. But I was struck by the assessment of damage in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. The ice storm affected 600,000 acres, or nearly 1,000 square miles of crippled trees, much of the land still difficult to negotiate and dangerous from the potential of more falling limbs. Many recreation areas remain closed.

Slide show here.


Ozark-St. Francis National Forests officials continued this week to assess damage left in the wake of one of the worst winter ice storms to hit Arkansas in many years.  The broad band of ice caused damage stretching from northern and central parts of Arkansas and Southeastern Oklahoma.  
 It is estimated that over 600,000 acres on the Ozark-St. Francis have been affected – some areas have received virtually no damage, while other areas have been very hard hit with pines and hardwoods bent over, split, tops broken out, or the entire tree down, especially in upper elevations.

Initial reports indicated that downed trees and limbs have closed a large majority of recreation areas, trails, and forest roads north of Interstate 40.  “We have made substantial progress opening roads and areas and are transitioning from an initial emergency response to response/recovery phase.  We will continue working to open up priority areas in a timely manner," said Mark Morales, Forest Incident Coordinator.

Several areas are open across the forest, while others are closed for winter or closed as a result of the recent ice storm. “Safety remains a concern when traveling through the forest.  When in the forest, be mindful of overhanging limbs or unstable trees that may continue to come down over the next few weeks,” stated Tracy Farley, Public Affairs Team Leader.  “As field personnel are able to move into areas to complete damage assessments and determine that areas and roads are safe for the public, those areas will be opened.”
The entire Ozark Highlands Trail (~200 miles) is closed due to the ice storm. Following is the status of recreational areas on the forests.

Ranger District Recreation Area Notes

Big Piney   Haw Creek Falls Open
Bayou Bluff Open
Moccasin Gap Open
Brock Creek Recreation Area and Trails Open
Long Pool Open
Rotary Ann Closed – no water
Fairview Closed
Alum Cove Closed
Richland Creek Closed
Sam’s Throne Closed
Boston Mountain Natural Dam Open
Campbell’s Cemetery Open
White Rock Concessionaire open – no water available
Mill Creek Recreation Area Closed
Shores Lake Closed
Lake Wedington Recreation Area Closed
Magazine Cove Lake Open
Sorghum Hollow Horse Camp Open
Spring Lake Closed for winter
Pleasant Hill Pleasant Hill Shooting Range Open
Redding Open
High Bank Open
Wolf Pen Open
Horsehead Recreation Area Open
Ozone Closed
Sylamore Barkshed Closed
Blanchard Springs Caverns Visitors Information Center and campground Closed
Gunner Pool Closed
Syllamo Trail Closed

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