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Hikers assess Greenbelt trail damage

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20 miles worth of cleanup work to come

By Bob White

By BOB WHITE

bwhite@thenewsenterprise.com

ELIZABETHTOWN – The Greenbelt around Elizabethtown now consists of about 20 miles of trail, and after January’s ice storm, about an equal amount of woody debris strewn along paths, fields, creeks and bridges.

For Greenbelt volunteers, there’s a lot of work to be done to restore the trail to a usable state.

According to Judy Lay, publicity chairwoman for the organization, only the Wintersmith and Freeman Lake legs of the loop are fully navigable. The Billy Smith leg is partially navigable, she said.

In preparation for the hundreds of volunteer hours that inevitably must be donated to trail cleanup, Kentucky Division of Forestry’s Robert Bean guided a tour of the trails Sunday to explain how to mitigate the storm-wrecked trees and downfall.

“Trees are amazing organisms,” Bean said. “They can live through a lot.”

The January ice storm stripped bark, limbs and other would-be leafy areas from many types of trees. Bean explained that much of the trail work to be done requires heavy tools, including some aerial equipment – things not conducive to most volunteer efforts.

Professionals, Bean said, will be needed for much of the job, just as in the yards of many homeowners where heavy fallen wood crashed under the weight of ice or the blowing wind that followed a month and a half ago.

While some federal dollars have been allocated for state park and forest areas throughout Kentucky, Bean said he’s unaware of any taxpayer help for non-profit organizations or projects such as the Elizabethtown Greenbelt.

“There’s been some talk, but that’s about it,” Bean said.

Lay said no organized cleanups have yet been scheduled, but she expects a number of smaller cleanups will be organized later this year.

Plenty of information about the Greenbelt, including maps and activities, can be found at www.touretown.com/greenbelt.shtml. Calls about the Greenbelt can be made to (270) 765-6121.

Bob White can be reached at (270) 505-1750.