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‘It’s not a quick fix:’ Fox Island still recovering after 2022 derecho devastation

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Three thousand: that is roughly how many trees were downed in Fox Island County Park after the 2022 derecho, and officials said it is probably a conservative estimate.

“Once we hit 3,000, we just stopped counting,” said Natalie Haley, director and education manager of Fox Island.

Now, Allen County is trying to reopen the park and repair what storm damage they can.

At Wednesday’s Allen County Parks and Recreation Board Meeting, an update on ‘Fox Island Storm Damage Cleanup and Restoration,’ was on the agenda as officials discussed issues they have had while attempting to clean up the park.

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Ahead of the board meeting, Haley told WANE 15 the park has been too wet to do proper repairs.

“The fact that it rained every week this winter, we still have one northern trail system that needs to be cleared out,” Haley said.

Haley said the park does not have a timeline for when the park repairs will be completed, but she did add that Fox Island plans to plant 7,000 trees this spring once debris has been cleared.

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“Getting the debris out of the way has been a lot more work than anticipated,” Haley said.

The trees will be paid for by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department and provided by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.

The restoration project also aims to take care of the soil and overall ecosystem at the park.

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“I have been speaking with native plant species about getting native grasses,” Haley said. “If we are not taking care of the soil structure, what we want to grow in it will not grow.”

As reported by WANE 15