Official: Restoring National Forest trails ‘dangerous work’

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HARRISBURG, Ill. – The Shawnee National Forest was significantly altered a decade ago when a storm struck southern Illinois that was so strong meteorologists created a new class of extreme weather to describe it.

The Southern Illinoisan reports that forest officials say the May 2009 storm rerouted trails, caused wildfires and changed habitats.

The forest spans 289,000 acres (117,000 hectares) in southern Illinois between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. It is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, which says nearly 1 million people visit each year.

The storm brought wind gusts of more than 90 mph (145 kph), tornadoes, flash flooding, thunderstorms and hail. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called it a “Super Derecho.”

Wilderness technician Kelly Pearson says making the damaged trails serviceable again was hot, dangerous work.

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