Drought stricken horse trails reopened in Davy Crockett National - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Drought stricken horse trails reopened in Davy Crockett National Forest

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KENNARD, TX (KTRE) -

The Piney Creek Horse trails in the Davy Crockett National Forest have reopened, four months after dangerous conditions kept the public out.

"Its one of the very few places in the Houston County area that people can ride horses. One of our main priorities was to get the trails open again because so many people depend on using the trails and using the recreation area," said Ernie Murray, Public Affairs Specialist, National Forest and Grasslands in Texas.

Forest officials found the large number of dead trees killed in last summer's drought created safety hazards throughout the forest. Piney Creek, along with Ratcliff Park were both ordered closed.

"It was significant enough that we had to close the horse camps and the horse trails to address the safety issue," said Gerald Lawrence, District Ranger, Davy Crockett National Forest.

A survey identified all the trees that needed to be cut down in the 54 mile trail.

"Contractors came in behind our crews and cut those trees down and cut them off the trails and cut the trees away from the trails the dead trees," said Lawrence.

Though the debris is cleared and trees are cut, District Ranger Gerald Lawrence says there's more to do.

"There's still a lot of additional work that needed to be done to finalize some of the clean-up efforts for the horse trails and horse camps," said Lawrence.

 As East Texans take advantage of the remaining summer season, staying safe along the trails isn't difficult.

"When the public is out anywhere in the forest they do need to take caution and be aware of their surrounding and be safe out there," said Lawrence.

Forest officials are now turning their focus to Ratcliff recreation area.

The park is undergoing a two phase recovery process. They are also working to reopen 17 miles of hiking area in the Neches Bluff Trail.

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