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Ganaraska Forest to remain closed until end of September due to derecho storm

The Ganaraska Forest and its many trails will remain closed until at least Sept. 30 in the wake of the May 21 derecho storm. Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority/Facebook

The Ganaraska Forest in central Ontario will remain closed until Sept. 30 at the earliest in the wake of the devastating windstorm in May.

On Thursday, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) announced public access to the 4,452-hectare forest (11,000 acres) will remain extended until at least Sept. 30, a decision officials said “has not been made lightly” and is based on many factors.

The forest encompasses much of Northumberland County along with sections of Peterborough County, City of Kawartha Lakes and Durham Region.

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

The May 21 derecho storm downed numerous large trees, blocking many trails and creating both impassable and unsafe areas for recreational activities throughout the forest, the GRCA reports.

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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.

“The GRCA knows how much the Ganaraska Forest means to the local community and recreational users that come from across Ontario and out of province,” said Linda Laliberte, the GRCA’s chief administrative office and secretary-treasurer, in a statement.

“The GRCA is committed to re-opening recreational trails in the Ganaraska Forest to recreational use. Everyone’s continued cooperation, understanding and patience is appreciated.”

 

Many trails in the Ganaraska Forest remain impassable and unsafe. Ganaraska Conservation Authority/Facebook

Among factors in the extended closure include:

  • The extent and locations of over 250 hectares (600 acres) of tree blowdown are impacting main trail access points and systems within the West Forest next to Boundary and Porter roads and the Central Forest trailhead located at the Ganaraska Forest Centre.
  • Staff continue to clear trails but a “significant amount” of the approximately 600 kilometres of trails still need to be addressed. The GRCA says the ability to open certain trail sections while others remain closed is not possible given the various recovery operations taking place throughout the forest.
  • Starting in mid-July and continuing into the fall, multiple logging operations (salvage and annual harvest) will be occurring throughout the West and Central Forests. The number of operations is more than normal, and some will be operating along trails to support recovery.
  • The East Forest will remain closed even though it was not as severely impacted by the storm but the forest does not have the capacity or the parking areas to support an abundance of recreational activity.

The conservation authority says Ganaraska Forest memberships will be extended as follows:

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  • Memberships (except for cross-country ski memberships) purchased between June 1, 2021 and May 21, 2022, will receive a 12-month extension from the original membership expiry date.
  • Ganaraska Forest cross-country ski memberships that expired during the closure (between May 21, 2022, to the re-opening date) will be given a six-month hiking membership.

You can visit the GRCA web page and the Ganaraska Conservation Facebook page for updates.

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