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Fontenelle Forest working to reopen after weekend’s storm

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 10:37 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Crews at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue are navigating their way through fallen trees, still assessing the damage from the weekend’s storm.

“I would say every single trail has at least one or two trees on it,” said Michelle Foss, Director of Stewardship & Research, Fontenelle Forest, noting the hurricane-force winds were enough to topple healthy trees. “It’s not even like it was just dead trees that fell.”

Fontenelle Forest covers more than 2,000 acres across its location in Bellevue and Neale Woods in North Omaha.

“We’ve cleared 19 trees today all throughout our upper woodland area and we cleared 10 yesterday, said Shawna Gorman, Land Steward Intern, Fontenelle Forest.

They were hoping to have parts of the popular boardwalk open by Monday but deemed it still too dangerous.

“This morning at about 7 o’clock, we came to check on the boardwalk and close the parts we didn’t want people,” said Foss. “And trees were still falling so we decided to keep the trails closed today.”

They’re now aiming to have parts of the boardwalk open Tuesday, but there’s some major damage that could take several weeks.

All trails at Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods remain closed today due to storm damage. There is no trail access. Please check our website daily for updates. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Posted by Fontenelle Forest on Monday, July 12, 2021

A part of the boardwalk sustained the most damage during the flood and crews say it could be another several weeks before this part is fully repaired.

“I’ve been here 15 years and it’s one of the worst ones I’ve seen,” said Jim Beebe, Ranger, Fontenelle Forest. “It will take us a little while to get things repaired and put back in order.”

“Once we’re sure they’re safe, we’ll start opening the trails one by one,” added Foss. “We hope to have the majority of trails open by the end of the week.”

But the for the wetlands to reopen will be longer. A downed tree and powerline are blocking the road and it’s a similar situation at Neale Woods.

“The road to Neale Woods is also blocked by a tree and a powerline so we don’t have access to it either,” said Foss, noting it’s still up in the air as to when those trails will open.

“Really it just depends on how many trees are down, how big they are, and how quickly we can get out to get them.”

For updates on Fontenelle Forest trail openings, check out their social media feeds.

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