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Park reopens after flood cleanup

Administrators at the Isle du Bois Unit of Ray Roberts Lake State Park opened the gates on Wednesday morning, after months of closure forced by massive flooding in May and June.

The park is “partially open,” according to Unit Superintendent Mark Stewart. Areas that are currently open are: the boat ramp, day-use area, fishing pier, Deer Ridge and Quail Run campgrounds, Blue Stem equestrian camping area, the kid fishing pond, all hiking and biking trails and the equestrian trail between Blue Stem campground and FM 455.

Areas that remain closed are: primitive camping areas, the northern section of the equestrian trail and the Greenbelt Trail south of FM 428.

Stewart said the park’s staff has been working with volunteers for months to get the park operational once again, and while many areas are not ready, they felt like it was a good time to open the gates.

“We just wanted to make sure the facilities were cleaned up and made safe for the public and that we had a significant amount of areas where the electricity was safe, where people can enjoy the park without there being any danger,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of work. We’ve had a lot of staff hours and man-hours, not only with staff and volunteers, but also with outside volunteers.

“It was a lot of work. We’re hoping that people will come back out and enjoy the park after it being out of commission for most of the summer.”

The equestrian trail, south of the park, will also receive repairs to the bridge that was washed out in the 2007 floods as well, and the rangers hope to have it completed in the near future.

Stewart said the rangers will begin working on the closed areas and they hope to have them open over the course of the next few months. The Greenbelt Trail sustained major damage in the flood and he said it most likely won’t be open until “late winter.”

“It’ll probably be another month or two before we get the primitive camping areas cleaned up. There was a lot of flood damage and silt and debris in there,” he said. “We’re going to continue to work on cleaning stuff. There are some barricaded spots where we have erosion issues.”

The high flood waters left large amounts of zebra mussels around the shore line and close to the beach area, and Stewart said parks personnel are encouraging visitors to wear shoes in and around the water, as the shells of the mussels are sharp.

Regardless of what “open” means for Isle du Bois, Stewart said rangers and volunteers will be looking forward to interacting with the public after being closed for more than two months.

“The park staff is looking forward to having visitors and trying to get back to something that looks more normal for us,” he said.

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