SALINE COUNTY -- The road that leads to popular Shawnee National Forest landmark, Stone Face, in the southeastern part of the county, is closed after flooding washed out culverts, according to the U.S. Forest Service's incident management team.
Patricia York, a public information officer with the Type 2 Eastern Area Incident Management team, said while many national forest areas in Southern Illinois were affected by recent flooding, the loss of culverts on Stoneface Lane is believed to be among the worst damage assessed so far.
York is part of a team charged with assessing all damage to both the Shawnee National Forest and Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri.
"What we're finding is, other than washouts here and there on roads, there is not a lot of damage," York said Wednesday at the site of the washed-out roadway on Stoneface Lane. "We are finding trees down in trails and some minor erosion on trails, but so far what we're finding is passable."
York said the Forest Service is concerned for some low-lying areas in the Shawnee because the Ohio River has not yet crested and up to two inches of rain is predicted for the region Friday and Saturday.
In the western part of the Shawnee in the Mississippi Bluffs Ranger District, there are some road closures as well as areas where caution is advised, she said.
York also cautioned that additional trees may fall.
"When you have a situation where there are heavy winds and the soil is saturated, even green trees may fall over," she said.
Meanwhile, crews from the Green Mountain and White Mountain national forests are cutting fallen trees in the Hayes Canyon Trail System in Pope County, she said.
"We want to get the word out to all of those who are looking at recreating in the forest in what should be a beautiful weekend that yes, most areas are open for use but people need to use caution," York said.
York also advised that those considering using national forest sites e-mail ShawneeForestFlood2017@gmail.com for up-to-date information, call (573) 953-7478 or call any of the Shawnee National Forest office locations.