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updated: 7/29/2014 10:04 AM

Starved Rock trails still closed from storm damage

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Associated Press

UTICA-- A majority of the 13-mile trail system at Starved Rock State Park in northern Illinois remains closed because of significant storm damage that happened four weeks ago.

The park is waiting for an emergency contract to be awarded for tree removal, The Pantagraph reported. The damage includes limbs hanging dangerously overhead, branches littering the trails and falling trees.

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Park Superintendent Mark McConnaughhay said hikers who ignore the closed trail signs are subject to fines of at least $120.

Conservation police Sgt. Hank Frazier said as he was writing a ticket Sunday, an oak tree 2 feet in diameter came crashing down. Frazier said he asked the woman, "Now do you understand why we're out here?"

He said park officials have issued more than 200 tickets for unlawful entry into a restricted area since the storm hit on June 30.

Frazier said Sunday's storms brought down more limbs and trees.

Park staff and state workers have already cleared some trails and repaired damaged boardwalks and stairs.

Trails at the top of Starved Rock and into French Canyon are open, as well as the trails at the east end of the park, leading to Ottawa, Kaskaskia and Illinois canyons. The lodge, visitor center and picnic area also are open.

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