Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - October 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
National Forests in Texas to reopen following Hurricane Ike
Houston County Courier - October 2008
While closing the national forests in anticipation of a hurricane may seem like an unnecessary move, there is sound logic in the act, according to Eddie Taylor, Hurricane Ike incident commander for the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas.
When it became certain that Hurricane Ike would hit the Texas coast and sweep through East Texas, a “closure order” for the four National Forests in Texas was issued.
“There were two good reasons for doing this,” Taylor said. “First, we learned from Hurricane Rita that evacuees seeking safety in the national forests put themselves in grave danger from falling trees and put our employees in danger by having to cut their way into the forest to rescue them. Second, a hurricane can change course quickly and without much warning, so closing all four forests was a precaution that allowed us to evaluate the damage and begin recovery.
Taylor added that although the closure orders were written for a 90-day period, that did not mean that the forests would remain closed for that length of time.
“Just as the forests are closed, they can be opened once there is no danger to the public,” Taylor said. “The Angelina and Sabine National Forests were spared the brunt of the storm and clean-up of the roads and recreation areas was relatively simple. Those forests were closed for less than a week. However, the Sam Houston and Davy Crockett National Forests took a considerably harder hit and it’s taken longer to get roads cleared and those forests safe for the public.”
Taylor said he is very much aware that the timing of the hurricane and the opening of hunting season could not be worse, but Forest Service employees and chainsaw crews are working long hours seven days a week to get roads, recreation areas and hunter camps cleared of debris.
“I appreciate the patience and understanding of the hunters and others who use the national forests. We ask that anyone planning to visit the National Forests in Texas first check our website or call the Ranger’s office for the status of the forest,” Taylor said.
The four National Forests in Texas sustained varying degrees of damage from Hurricane Ike. Here is the status of the Angelina, Sabine, Davy Crockett and Sam Houston National Forests.
The Angelina National Forest is open except for Boykin Springs Recreation Area and the Sawmill Hiking Trail. In the SFA Experimental Forest, the hiking trail is closed.
The Sabine National Forest is open except for Red Hills Lake Recreation Area which is closed for the season and the Trail Between the Lakes Hiking Trail.
The Davy Crockett National Forest opens Thursday, Oct. 2, except for Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area, the 4C National Recreation Trail, Piney Creek Horse Trail and a couple of hunter camps which will be open later in October.
The Sam Houston National Forest opens Wednesday, Oct. 1, except for Cagle and Stubblefield Recreation Areas, the day-use area of Scotts Ridge, the Lone Star National Recreation Trail and the Multi-Use Trail.
The Forest Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department plan to issue antlerless permits in October as usual.
The Caddo National Grasslands and Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands in north Texas were unaffected by the storm and are open.