Cleanup process begins in Natchez Trace State Forest

HENDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — After a tornado touched down in Henderson County in December, government agencies are coming together to clean up the area.

“A tornado came through Henderson County, and it came right through the middle of Natchez Trace State Forest. It really uprooted and tore down quite a bit of the standing timber that we had — approximately 1,400-acres,” said Matthew Simpson, the┬áState Forest Supervisor at Natchez Trace State Forest.

After an EF-2 tornado moved through the forest on Dec. 11, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is out cleaning up the area.

“Instead of just letting the wood sit there and rot, we’re going to recover some of it and get the forestry industry involved, where they can make some money off of it, create some additional forest industry jobs,” Simpson said.

The money made from selling the fallen and dead timber will go back into the general state fund account with the Department of Agriculture, and bring new revenue to Henderson County through gas, food, and lodging. But they’re doing it for the health of the forest also.

“Cleaning up the damaged and unhealthy tree is going to increase the health of the forest in the state forest and make it less susceptible to disease,” Simpson said.

After beginning this week, they hope to knock out much of the work this summer while conditions are dry to keep a clean environment. And they hope to finish by this winter.

“It’s going to be so busy during the summer and into the winter because we’re trying to get as many loggers out here as possible to finish up the project as quickly as possible and get out of everyone’s hair,” Simpson said.

If you plan on visiting the park this summer, officials say be mindful of the trucks along Highway 114 and to watch for signs.

“Traffic is going to be along 114, going out of the lane towards Lexington. So just be mindful of logging trucks. We’ll have plenty of signs showing everybody what’s going on,” Simpson said.

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