Drought stricken horse trails reopened in Davy Crockett National Forest

KENNARD, TX (KTRE) - The Piney Creek Horse trails in theDavy Crockett National Forest have reopened, four months after dangerousconditions kept the public out.

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

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

"It was significant enough thatwe had to close the horse camps and the horse trails to address the safetyissue," said Gerald Lawrence, District Ranger, Davy Crockett NationalForest.

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

"Contractors came in behind ourcrews and cut those trees down and cut them off the trails and cut the trees awayfrom the trails the dead trees," said Lawrence.

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

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

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

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

Forest officials are nowturning their focus to Ratcliff recreation area.

The park is undergoing atwo phase recovery process. They are also working to reopen 17 miles of hikingarea in the Neches Bluff Trail.

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