Superintendent said more work to be done, cleanup takes time
There isn't a timetable for when Starved Rock and Matthiessen state parks will reopen, and the overall cost of damage still is being evaluated, said Starved Rock State Park Site Superintendent Alvin Harper on Friday.
Park officials have said parks won't be accessible until next week, at the earliest.
Starved Rock and Matthiessen had extensive damage from Monday's derecho. All trails, picnic and fishing areas are closed at Starved Rock. The lodge and campgrounds are still open, but those who have reservations are being given the option to reschedule.
Matthiessen is fully closed while staff work to clear the trails.
Just down the Illinois River, Illini State Park trails in Marseilles also are closed from Monday's storm damage.
Harper said clearing trees is dangerous work, and park officials are urging people to avoid entering the parks and trails in any capacity.
"There are a lot of the tops of trees that have broken off and large limbs laying all around," Harper said. "There are whole trees that are blown over or split in half. There'll just be a big half of a tree laying around."
Harper said the damage is similar to what has been seen in Oglesby's Lehigh Park.
Mathiessen State Park got hit a bit harder than Starved Rock, Harper said, and the Dells Picnic Area took the hardest hit.
"A lot of the mature oaks have had their tops blown off or the trees themselves have been taken off," Harper said. "There are still a lot of oaks there, but it definitely took a bad hit from the storm."
Harper expects cleanup to take time.
"Crews have been working and making good progress, but we have to provide a safe trail for everyone and have enough safe trails for people to use to make it viable," Harper said. "We're still working towards that."