Final cleanup efforts began Thursday in Horseshoe and Stuart recreation areas, causing the sites to be closed to all public access.
Electrical problems, broken limbs, downed trees and numerous hazardous limbs left as a result of Superstorm Sandy have caused long delays in opening both recreation areas on the Cheat-Potomac Ranger District on the Monongahela National Forest.
Horseshoe Recreation Area is located in Tucker County, north of Parsons, off Route 7. Stuart Recreation Area is located in Randolph County, about 6 miles east of Elkins along Shavers Fork.
Contracts to remove debris and overhead hazards will begin in the recreation areas by the end of the week. The contracts for debris removal are expected to be completed within 30 days. The electrical systems in both areas sustained considerable damage, so new transformers and power lines need to be installed. Without power, pumps for the sewer and water systems are not operable.
"In addition to camping, these recreation areas, especially Stuart Recreation Area, are popular places for people to come and spend the day hiking and fishing with family and friends. While there is heavy equipment operating, I need to close these recreation areas to all public access to allow the contractors to get their work accomplished while ensuring no one gets hurt by the equipment or overhead hazards," said District Ranger Troy Waskey.
"I know the delay in opening these sites has been frustrating for many people, but public health and safety is our top priority when making decisions about when to open or close an area," Waskey added.
The annual fishing derby planned for Horseshoe Recreation Area on June 1 still will take place.
"The contractor has graciously offered not to work that day, and I'm very excited we will be able to continue this annual event for the kids," Waskey said.
The fishing derby is for kids preschool through grade eight. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. at Horseshoe Recreation Area. Besides fishing, there will be casting contests, games and crafts for the registered kids. For more information regarding the fishing derby, anyone interested can contact the Cheat-Potomac Ranger Station at 304-478-2000.