Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Winds from Ike down trees, kill two at Hueston Woods

Columbus – Hurricane Ike’s unannounced whirlwind visit to Ohio’s
74 state parks in mid- September will keep work crews busy through
next spring clearing downed trees and repairing damage, a state
official said.

“We were surprised by the magnitude, the speed and how long it
lasted,” said Dan West, chief of Ohio Division of Parks and
Recreation, after a remnants of the hurricane blew into Ohio Sept.
14 gusting up to 75 mph and toppling trees and knocking out power
to state park facilities.

“It was like shaking a tree and all the limbs fell out,” West
said.

Luckily, there was very little property damage, he said.
However, two motorcyclists were killed at Hueston Woods State Park
when a 100-foot tree toppled upon them. They were participating in
a ride to benefit soldiers who have died fighting in the Iraqi
war.

West said power outages made it necessary to close lodges at
Deer Creek, Hueston Woods, Mohican, Punderson, and Salt Fork parks.
The closures lasted from 12 hours up to five days and parks offered
rebates to visitors and lodge guests.

Despite serious tree damage reported in 20 of the state parks,
West said emergency workers were able to quickly get access to
trouble spots because of clear, dry weather after the Sunday
storm.

“We were pretty blessed,” West said, noting that clear, nice
days that followed the storm allowed repair work to begin without
many delays.

A large rainfall would have made access to many state parks
inaccessible, the parks chief said.

“We were lucky we had the bright weather elements,” he said.

The early priority was to clear park roadways of down trees and
storm debris, West said, adding that cleanup at the parks will
continue through the winter into next spring.

Initial storm damage was attacked by crews from the parks’
construction crews and workers from the DNR divisions of forestry
and wildlife.

“I thought we had a rapid response by a number of other agencies
that helped out, including our sister agencies,” West said.

In the days after the storm, the forestry division was alerting
private woodlot owners that the agency’s Call before You Cut
program was available to assist in answering questions about uses
for removing damaged and downed trees.

“Most private owners don’t have a harvest plan or know what they
would like to do with their woods,” said Andy Ware, assistant chief
of the forestry division. State foresters can advise landowners of
best management practices and offer suggestions to increase
wildlife habitat, he said.

“We have a great bunch of foresters,” Ware said. Since 2006, the
forestry program has assisted 1,000 people who own about 24,000
acres.

“That’s about the size of a large state forest,” he said.

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