Storm-damaged recreation sites in forest reopen

Greg Seubert

The effects of a windstorm that blew through northern Oconto County five years ago are still being felt.

Much of the damage from the July 2019 storm occurred in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and caused forest officials to issue a temporary closure order that affected several recreation areas — including campgrounds, picnic areas, trails and roads.

Forest Supervisor Jennifer Youngblood terminated that order May 9.

“We are still recovering from the storm from five years ago,” said Lance Waller, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest district recreation supervisor. “The acreage that we needed to clean up was high. It started with the roads, and all the recreation sites were cleared out one by one.”

The storm, which originated in Langlade County, led to several closed roads and recreation areas.

U.S. Forest Service crews removed downed trees from roads and trails; removed standing hazardous trees; repaired surfaces of damaged trails; and repaired or replaced broken signs and other infrastructure.

The storm caused extensive damage in the Jones Spring Recreation Area southwest of Townsend.

The 2,000-acre area is managed for nonmotorized use and offers several loops of hiking and groomed cross-country ski trails. Fanny Lake has five walk-in campsites along its shore, and the area is also managed as a wildlife area for hunting.

“Recovery of the Jones Springs area was slow, as the forest was not successful in awarding a salvage timber sale, a strategy that greatly assisted with storm cleanup in other areas,” according to a Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest news release announcing that the order had been lifted.

The storm also closed 105 miles of road segments in Oconto and Langlade counties.

“Volunteers, partners and employees have worked diligently for several years so that areas affected by severe storms in 2019 could reopen,” U.S. Forest Service Recreation Program Manager Karen Katz said. “We are pleased to announce that areas that were previously closed due to storm damage are now open again.”