Tomorrow, Saturday, March 14 will be the first volunteer work day to clean up damage and debris at Cumberland Mountain State Park from the February ice storms, and officials are urging the public to get involved.
"We really don't know what to expect," said Ranger Monica Johnson of the damage to the trail system. She said there are usually four trail work days each spring to help get the 14 miles of trails at the park cleaned up before the busy days of spring and summer. This year, she's scheduled 10.
In addition to tomorrow, other work days are set for March 16, 23, 28, and 30 and April 6, 13, 18, 20, 27.
Park Rangers have been kept busy with the cleanup of the roads and park facilities in the immediate aftermath of the storm and have not had the opportunity to inspect all the trails, yet, but have heard from people hiking the trail system.
The ice storm caused a good deal of damage to different areas of the park. The restaurant was closed for about a week as roads and parking areas were cleared of fallen trees and debris. Rangers from other state parks came and helped get the roads and facilities back open after the storm.
The campgrounds have been closed due to some water lines that froze and burst.
"We had to cancel some reservations during that first week," Johnson said. "We've had to move some others around, but most are back up and open to visitors."
Volunteers are urged to meet at 8 a.m. tomorrow and on other scheduled work days at the park office. Those working should bring work gloves and, if possible, safety glasses. Also needed are loppers to help trim small branches, plenty of water, snacks and a lunch. Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing.
Work will include helping to re-blaze the trail, trim back limbs and briars, and cut and move other obstructions off the trail, such as downed trees and branches.
The park is entering a busy time of year, with activities planned most weekends the next two months. Tomorrow is also the 50K Tree Day in Tennessee, and volunteers will be at the park planting trees. There is also a first day of spring hike March 21, the Wildflower Weekend Tour beginning March 27 and the annual Kite Day March 28.
The park will also hold its annual Byrd Creek Trail Run 5K May 9, with a Walk with a Ranger program going on now to help people get ready for the race that day.
The ice storm did lead to the cancellation of one planned program, The Physics of Flight, but that is being rescheduled for an April date, Johnson said.