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Great Lakes Article:

Lake Metroparks' off season one of renewal
By Michael Scott
The Plain Dealer
Published November 22, 2006

Lake Metroparks' recreation areas along the Grand River and its tributaries are slipping into a welcome winter of rest following a wild summer of destruction.

But park officials predict a complete comeback next spring from the flood of 2006.

"The flood did a lot of damage in a lot of areas," said Tom Adair, natural resource manager for the Metroparks. "Even though a few trails and areas remain closed off, most of the parks are on their way back and now that we're three months into our cleanup efforts, time will take care of a lot of the rest."

Lake County was the epicenter of epic rainfall and flooding over 16 hours July 27-28, as up to 10 inches fell in some areas.

The county's two major rivers rose and roared toward Lake Erie. The water damaged thousands of homes from Willowick to Madison and overwhelmed storm sewer lines and low-lying areas.

For Lake Metroparks, that put a dozen parks, reservations and nature areas in the path of rivers running at historically high and fast levels. Some estimates say the Grand was flowing at 30,000 cubic feet per second.

Parks from Hogback Ridge in Madison to Grand River Landing in Fairport Harbor were under assault from the fast-flowing Grand. Parks along Big Creek and Paine Creek also were in water's way.

The worst damage remaining from the flooding in Lake County is at Girdled Road Reservation, where a 6-foot-wide gravel trail was wiped out by Big Creek. The park and its hiking trails remain open at the north and south ends, but the two pathways no longer connect at the creek.

"You can't even tell there was a trail there," Adair said. "The power of water is amazing."

Other parks' trails were washed out to a lesser degree, and foot bridges and trail signs were damaged. Workers also had to cut downed trees and restore overturned picnic tables and washed-away portable restrooms.

Parking lots and grassy areas were covered with silt that had been carried along by the raging rivers. Some areas of the riverbeds were blocked with piles of rocks, logs and debris that took weeks to remove.

"We used heavy equipment to get inches of silt off the parking areas, but we just left it in the natural areas and planted new grass on top," Adair said. "People will think it looks a little different next year, but that's about it."

Metroparks Deputy Director Steve Madewell said the parks system will soon apply for federal reimbursement for materials used to restore the recreation areas, but he had no cost estimate.

The Grand River also damaged or destroyed more than a dozen bridges in Lake County, making several parks difficult to reach. The closing of the Vrooman Road bridge in Leroy Township, for example, has cut off access from Interstate 90 to Indian Point and Mason's Landing parks.

"People can still reach all of the parks, but it's not as easy as it once was," Adair said.

 

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