Park Closed After Storms Down Trees

May 7, 2003
Posted at: 5:23 p.m. CDT

MAMMOTH SPRING, Ark. -- A Region 8 state park is closed Wednesday due to storm damage that rolled through Arkansas and Missouri overnight Tuesday.

High winds caused some sixteen trees to fall and close Mammoth Spring State Park on the Arkasnas-Missouri state line in Fulton County. Mammoth Spring is 78 miles northeast of Jonesboro.

Tuesday night's storm had wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour through the town of Mammoth Spring and its state park caught the brunt of it.

"This is one of the worst (storms)," park Maintenance Superintendent Eddie Mitchell said. "I have been here twenty years and this was the worst the town has got."

Some of clean-up crew members have been at the park since 5 o'clock Wednesday morning. Mitchell says that the work before them at the park is nearly eight times their normal workload.

"Normally two or three (trees) a year," Mitchell said. "Sixteen all at once? That's a pretty heavy load."

A dozen smaller trees fell Tuesday night, damaging sings and gates, and one of the park's pavilions, which that park may lose completely.

"The worst damage is to the pavilion," Superintendent Dave Jackson said. "We had a large oak tree fall and punch a hole through the roof."

Jackson tells us that some of the park's large oak trees are at least 200 years old. As far as tourism goes, according to Jackson, the damage inflicted Tuesday may actually raise money instead of costing the park.

"It's kind of ironic," Jackson said. "A lot of times when you have something happen, (people) want to see what is going on."

Public access is still maintained at the front of the park, including the damn and the hydroelectric plant. To help with the cleanup process, three of Mammoth Spring's sister parks are working together to have the main area re-opened by May 16.