Ganaraska Forest remains closed until further notice due to May 21 storm damage

Conservation authority says derecho is 'largest natural disaster' to affect southern Ontario's largest forest

Some of the damage in the Ganaraska Forest caused by the May 21, 2022 derecho storm. The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) expects it will be weeks before the forest will reopen for public use. (Photo: GRCA)
Some of the damage in the Ganaraska Forest caused by the May 21, 2022 derecho storm. The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) expects it will be weeks before the forest will reopen for public use. (Photo: GRCA)

The Ganaraska Forest is remaining closed until further notice due to extensive damage from the May 21, 2022 derecho storm.

At 11,000 acres (4,452 hectares), the Ganaraska Forest is southern Ontario’s largest forest, and straddles Northumberland and Peterborough counties, Kawartha Lakes, and Durham Region.

“Early assessments suggest this was the largest natural disaster to impact the Ganaraska Forest since it was established in 1947,” reads a media release from the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA). “Downed trees and safety hazards have been found on nearly every trail that staff have been able to access. In addition, an estimated 400-plus acres of the Ganaraska Forest have experienced severe blowdown damage.”

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According to GRCA, the core of forest remains largely inaccessible and staff continue to assess the extent of damage from ground level. Aerial surveys were completed to identify significant blowdown areas that are currently inaccessible from the ground.

GRCA forestry staff will be organizing a salvage harvest in these blowdown areas soon. Summer staff have been hired to support GRCA staff in assessment and recovery efforts. The focus is to clear GRCA forest roads while continually surveying the Ganaraska Forest for blowdowns and hazardous conditions.

While GRCA appeciates offers of help from the public, the organization says the forest is too hazardous in its current state to use volunteers. Use of volunteers will be considered once recovery and cleanup progresses.

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GRCA says it cannot predict when the Ganaraska Forest will be able to reopen, but expects it will be weeks. All current Ganaraska Forest memberships will be extended by the length of time that the forest remains closed.

The GRCA continues to enforce the closure of the Ganaraska Forest, and no access is being granted.

One of the 10 deaths in Ontario as a result of the May 21 storm happend in Ganaraska Forest when a 30-year-old man riding a dirt bike died from the injuries he sustained after being struck by a falling tree.