Outdoors

Get outside and walk, but stay safe

Check with area trails to make sure they are open

Bob Stokes of Marion works to clear fallen trees from Wood Duck Way, a 1.5-mile trail on the grounds of the Indian Creek
Bob Stokes of Marion works to clear fallen trees from Wood Duck Way, a 1.5-mile trail on the grounds of the Indian Creek Nature Center last month. Check to see if your favorite trails are open and be careful. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Few challenges match the stress resulting from months of worldwide pandemic and an uncertain future.

Nature offers an antidote to a world that seems to be running amok, and this year parks, natural areas and trails have seen record use by people seeking the healing embrace of nature.

For many Iowans the Aug. 10 derecho added insult to corona’s illness.

Massive winds instantly transformed woodlands of quiet beauty into depressing scenes of destruction. It is more than visually disturbing. Hanging branches and twisted trunks are potential hazards.

The derecho slammed woodlands in its path, but, fortunately, damage was in a long but narrow band. Drive a half-hour north or south of Cedar Rapids and woodlands were much less impacted by the storm’s ferocious winds than those in the Metro area. Most parks and trails outside of the storm’s path are intact, open and welcoming.

Want to ride a bike or walk on a Cedar Rapids Metro area trail? It’s best to first check to see if it is open. Cedar Rapids and Marion parks suffered immense tree damage. Crews are furiously working to open them, but it may be months before all are completely safe and ready for visitors.

The Linn County Conservation Board and Marion and Cedar Rapids Parks Departments post closings on their websites and update them as areas gradually reopen.

WALKING SAFELY

Many people enjoy visits to privately owned woodlands or wander off trail in public parks. Many of these forests remain hazardous as hanging limbs continue to fall and storm damaged trees suddenly topple. Although trees usually fall during windstorms, they can suddenly crash down on even a calm day weeks or months after a storm.

Most people injured or killed by falling trees or limbs are campers sleeping in tents or otherwise lingering beneath unstable trees. Before pitching a tent, always look up. Broken overhead branches and leaning or dead trees send a message to pitch the tent, picnic or sit quietly elsewhere.

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Although hikers or pedestrians are rarely hit by limbs or falling trees, it can happen. Look up and stay well away from broken trees and hanging limbs.

Rich and Marion Patterson have backgrounds in environmental science and forestry. They co-own Winding Pathways, a consulting business that encouraging people to “Create Wondrous Yards.”

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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