Fontenelle Forest continues repairs to extensive damage from 2019 Heartland flood

Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue is beginning to pick up the pieces four years after the Heartland Flood devastated the nature center and trail system.
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:21 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - New developments are underway at Fontenelle Forest to repair the remains of significant damage from its 2019 flood and recent wildfires -- especially to its boardwalk and floodplains.

The sight of the muddy trails won’t be a surprise.

“We have areas that have high water now that we didn’t have before and we have areas where there’s less water than we had before,” said Michelle Foss with Fontenelle Forest.

In the 2019 flood, the majority of the forest’s floodplains were underwater and bringing in new invasive species. Foss said they had to wait a year after the flood to make repairs, but even then they had leftover water.

“We made some repairs to our observation line at our great marsh, we had to rebuild our boardwalk that is down our Fontenelle Forest floodplain, and we had to rebuild our footbridge that connects our trails,” Foss said.

In 2022, the forest experienced a wildfire that scorched its trees and branches. Since then, they’re considering prescribed burning to help with brush clearance.

As for floods, they expect more to come in the future.

“Instead of trying to fight the flooding, we’re going to work with it,” Foss said.

The forest is also looking to control any new invasive species brought in by the flood by expanding its habitat restoration efforts.