Clean-up at Hartman Creek
Wind damaged park’s campground
By Greg Seubert
The sounds of crackling firewood, forest critters and family fun have been replaced by chain saws, logging equipment and hammers.
Clean-up continued July 25 at Hartman Creek State Park west of Waupaca after strong winds blew down several trees in the park’s popular campground July 20.
Property manager Jarrod Kehring expected the campground, which has more than 100 sites, to reopen Friday, July 26.
“We started with no electricity Friday night, about 11 p.m.,” he said. “The actual storm that came through and affected the majority of the park came through at about 10:45 a.m. There really was no warning or no time. The staff tried to warn people the best they could. We were able to warn a significant amount of people. A lot of people went to the open areas away from trees. A lot of people had left early, but it was probably still 70 percent full.”
Most of the damage to the campground is due to fallen trees and branches, according to Kehring.
“We had some vehicle property damage and one of our main shower buildings has some structural roof damage,” he said. “We had response from the fire department because we had a leaking propane tank. We had response from local forestry and park staff.”
Clean-up began shortly after the storm ended
“It’s been a group effort,” Kehring said. “We had over 11 area foresters come in, we had park staff come in, we had wildlife come in and we had a lot of volunteers come in and help out.”
A crew from Marion-based logging company Radies Corp. has also been at the park since July 22.
“We’ve been working 12 to 14 hours a day trying to get it open,” Kehring said. “Right now, we have seven sites that are going to be closed up until Thursday of next week. That’s what we’re going with. All other sites should be good to go. We’re expecting our campground to be full.”
The damage doesn’t compare to a June 2017 wind storm that blew through the park, Kehring said.
“This is by far on a higher level,” he said. “There was no structural damage to buildings and I believe that was a one-day clean-up effort. This has been a whole week with a logging operation going on.”
While the park’s Allen Lake Picnic Area, Hartman Lake beach and concession stand remain open, several of the 1,500-acre park’s trails are closed until further notice.
“Right now, our single-track bike trails remain closed, but we’ve actually been able to open up quite a few of our hiking trails,” Kehring said. “The best thing for people visiting is to check at the office to see what’s open and what’s not and just be patient with us. We’re doing the best we can do.”
It won’t take frequent park visitors long to notice the difference, according to Kehring.
“It only took five minutes to destroy it, but it’s going to take months to recoup,” he said. “It’s going to take years for it to look like it used to.”