The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Massive clean-up effort being planned at Porkies


SILVER CITY — Experienced sawyers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are heading to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park to help clean up downed trees from last week’s snow and ice storm.

On April 26-27, higher elevations at the park received up to an inch of ice, which was then covered by two to four inches of snow. Numerous trees were weighed down and weakened by the thick coating of ice and snow.

With 40 to 50 miles of the park’s roughly 90 miles of hiking trails assessed so far, 17 miles of trails are in “extraordinarily” bad condition, or impassible. The park also has about 26 miles of ski/mountain bike trails to be assessed.

“The natural resources impact has been huge as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of trees downed in the park,” said Eric Cadeau, a DNR regional field planner from the Baraga office. “Additional assessment is needed to confirm the extent of the impact.”

In some places, as many as 100 trees per mile were reported down along trails, with 25 to 33 percent of trail markers damaged or destroyed.

“We have looked at some of the lower elevation trails and not found any damage, so we are first focusing on the higher elevation hiking trails,” said Bob Wild, a DNR interpreter at the park. “Then we’ll move to the lower elevation hiking trails and finally, our ski/mountain bike trails.”

Wild guessed 35 to 50 miles of hiking trails were likely impacted by storm damage, a rough estimate, as there are trees down that fell over the winter. Crews were continuing to assess trail impacts Thursday, with the investigation expected to be completed by the middle of next week.

Cadeau said no significant damage occurred to park bridges and boardwalks. The damage to that type of infrastructure that did occur was characterized as minor to moderate.

All pending rental cabins and yurts received no significant damage.

“The DNR sawyers being sent to the park will initially work a 40-hour period and then assess the progress,” Cadeau said.

After the storm, Road 107 to Lake of the Clouds and the road to Summit Peak were closed late on April 27 as falling trees hampered efforts of clean-up crews. The road to Lake of the Clouds reopened Sunday and the road to Summit Peak was opened Monday.

Of the trails inspected so far, the Government Peak Trail in the park’s midsection, the Overlook Trail east of Lake of the Clouds and the Cloud Peak Trail are among those impacted most heavily.

“These heavily-impacted areas are dangerous and it is very difficult to remain on the trail,” said Jeff Gaertner, park supervisor. “Please use alternate routes and avoid these areas.”

Last summer, the Porkies was struck by two consecutive storms — the first in the west, the second in the east — that felled numerous trees onto trails. The heavy rain from the first storm flooded creeks and streams, which undermined riverbanks and dropped more trees. One cabin had to be relocated, while several campsites and cabins were temporarily closed.


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