South Cumberland State Park managers have designated Monday, November 19 and Tuesday, November 20 as the first of many work days that will be needed to clean up damage to portions of South Cumberland State Park, resulting from the Nov 6th EF-2 tornado that crossed Grundy County.
“The most severe damage is in the vicinity of Savage Gulf, especially the Savage Campground and Savage Day Loop areas,” explains SCSP Assistant Manager Bill Knapp. “Trails in the eastern half of Savage Gulf are pretty bad. Walking the Savage Day Loop normally takes around an hour, at leisure. When our damage assessment team walked the Day Loop, pushing hard to get through the debris, it took us nearly 3 hours. It was a challenge the entire way, with many trees down and interlaced into a big mess.” Other affected areas include the North Plateau, North and South Rim, Mountain Oak, Collins Rim, and Collins Gulf trails.
The clean-up effort will be difficult, and potentially dangerous, due to half-fallen but suspended trees, and heavy limb debris. “For these reasons, we have decided to call in a team of park rangers from across the state to help us with the clearing of trails and campgrounds,” Knapp added. “We have scheduled November 19th and 20th as our first two clean-up days. We have requested 25-30 State Park Rangers with chainsaw experience.”
Knapp says the park is also getting calls from the public, asking how they can volunteer to help. “While we cannot allow them to use chainsaws, due to State regulations, we can allow them to follow the chainsaw crews to help pull brush and debris off the trails.”
However, due to the extent of damage, and the potentially dangerous conditions in the affected areas, Knapp says they can’t manage a large group of volunteers, so each clean-up day will be limited to 20 able-bodied volunteers. “We will have to bring everyone, and all equipment, in by truck,” he explained. “This will be very strenuous work that will take most all day. These folks need to be able to walk upwards of 8 miles through debris-filled areas while carrying tools, and will be tasked with lifting heavy objects.”
Persons interested in volunteering must pre-register by calling the SCSP office between 8 am and 4 pm before Friday, November 16th at[masked]. All tools will be provided; volunteers should dress for the weather, bring heavy work gloves, and their own food and water. Only registered volunteers will be allowed to participate. Additional information will be provided to volunteers when they call to register.