Ganaraska Forest remains closed following extensive damage from May 21 derecho storm

The Ganaraska Forest will reopen some trails on Sept. 30 following the devastating wind storm on May 21, 2022. GRCA photo

Conservation authorities say the Ganaraska Forest southwest of Peterborough, Ont., remains closed nearly two weeks after a major windstorm wreaked havoc across the province.

According to the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority, the May 21 derecho storm was one of the largest natural disasters to impact the forest since its establishment in 1947. The 4,452-hectare forest (11,000 acres) encompasses much of Northumberland County along with sections of Peterborough County, City of Kawartha Lakes and Durham Region.

The GRCA says downed trees and safety hazards have been found on nearly every trail its staff have been able to access.

Durham Regional Police reported on May 21 that a Clarington man was discovered in the forest “suffering from significant trauma.” The individual was pronounced dead at the scene after 3 p.m. Saturday.

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Public access is not being granted and areas are being patrolled during the closure, the authority stated Friday afternoon.

“In addition, an estimated 400-plus acres of the Ganaraska Forest have experienced severe blowdown damage,” the GRCA stated.

Staff continue to assess the extent of damage from ground level, and aerial surveys were completed to identify significant blowdown areas, that are presently inaccessible from the ground.

GRCA forestry staff are organizing a salvage harvest and summer staff will assist in assessment and recovery efforts.

“The focus is to clear GRCA forest roads while continually surveying the Ganaraska Forest for blowdowns and hazardous conditions,” the authority stated. “All offers of help from the public are greatly appreciated, unfortunately the Ganaraska Forest is too hazardous in its current state to use volunteers. The use of volunteers will remain a consideration as recovery and cleanup progresses.”

A reopening date has not been set.

The authority notes all forest memberships will be extended the length of the time the forest is closed.

The GRCA says to visit its website and Facebook page Ganaraska for updates.

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