Click on events in this Google Calendar for program listings and details.
Also below the calendar there is our article of the quarter written by Clara Conroy regarding the damage at Fox Island.
Due to extensive damage from the storm on June 13th at Fox Island County Park, and its closure until further notice, all programs listed below and in our newsletter are being held at Metea County Park or at off-site locations.
PLEASE NOTE: We do NOT accept credit cards. Payments must be cash or check!
FIREWORKS OF ANY KIND ARE STRICTLY PROHIBITED IN ANY ALLEN COUNTY PARK!
Thanks to our guest writer this quarter, Clara Conroy.
The Destruction of Fox Island County Park, June 13, 2022
By Clara Conroy, Fox Island Alliance
The morning of Monday, June 13, was quite nice at Fox Island. The first day of kid’s Nature Camp was off to a good start and campers were enjoying sunny skies and not-too-hot temperatures. As the day progressed and the temperature rose, park visitors enjoyed hiking in the shady woods and spending time at the beach. A typical lovely day at the park.
And then came the evening. And the storms.
The lightning show to the north started around sundown and soon hit Fort Wayne. Long-lived, straight-line wind storms led to a significant swath of wind damage. Record wind gusts of 98 mph were recorded at the nearby Fort Wayne International Airport and led to significant damage in the area. This was the strongest wind gust ever recorded at the airport.
The big old trees in the sandy dune soil never stood a chance against this derecho.
On the following morning of June 14, park staff had the daunting task of assessing the damage. Due to trees down on the park roads, no vehicles could get in or out of the front gate. The power to the park was out, which also meant no running water. Fox Island County Park was declared closed until further notice.
Maintenance workers went to work clearing the entry road and center parking lot. Trees were blown over around the nature center and into the pollinator garden in front, but luckily the new roof and building were spared. On the lake road there were over 64 trees down just to the parking lot. Uprooted trees pulled up portions of pavement, damaging the road itself.
In the following days, park staff went to check how much more damage was done. Heading west found trees down on the main trail, taking out trail markers with them, but most heartbreaking was discovering the loss of the Old Black Oak, an icon in the park.
Continuing on found that the devastation was worse than could ever be imagined. They found that there were 400 plus trees toppled from the lake road, down around Bowman Lake and back on the west end of the upper dune trail. It took them five hours to climb through it all. The frog pond is full of trees and every intersection and most of the trail is under trees on the upper dune. Sections of the dune trail are lost due to downed trees pulling up the ground and creating potholes. Much of the upper dune trail that was all under tree canopy is now in full sun. Some trees were blown completely over while others were snapped off halfway up the trunk.
Bob Dispenza, Park and Education Manager at Metea, had this to say about the damage, “Devastation is too light a word for what happened to Fox Island County Park Monday night. Large areas are simply destroyed. Areas that used to be covered by tree canopy are now open to the sky. We will never see Fox Island like it was Monday morning again in our lifetime, maybe ever.
One of the main reasons that Fox Island was a state nature preserve was because of the outstanding black oak savannah on the old sand dunes. Many places, including our experimental prescribed burn area, lost 100% of their large black oak trees.
Upper Dune Trail west had about 30 meters of open trail. All the rest was covered by fallen trees. So heavily covered it took two hours to walk the half mile and I lost the trail completely several times. Some trails might simply have to be abandoned, they are so heavily impacted.”
At the time of this writing, it is estimated that there are at least 1000 trees down on the trails alone.
Fox Island is changed for my lifetime at least. We will not be open until we have made it safe. We are losing thousands in revenue this summer, but we must keep park visitors safe. If you want to donate, please send a check made out to Allen County Park. Mail it to Fox Island County Park, (ATTN: Park Manager, Natalie Haley), 7324 Yohne Rd., Fort Wayne, IN. 46809. This may help alleviate the loss in revenue. Donations made in this way are also tax deductible.