01/23/09 — State park's icy trails thawing out

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State park's icy trails thawing out

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on January 23, 2009 1:46 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Back to business.

The winter weather experienced around Wayne County this week kept the gates closed at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. The park is scheduled to reopen today, weather permitting.

Icy conditions on the parks' roadways and trails made them unsafe for travel and warranted the closure.

"We didn't really have any damage, but with the snow, we didn't want people slipping and sliding around the parking lot," said park ranger Kelly Ondek.

With temperatures returning to seasonable levels, the park's upcoming schedule of events should offer something for everyone, beginning with the Winter Tree I.D. program on Jan. 31 at 2 p.m.

February is full of events at Cliffs of the Neuse, including a "Who's Hibernating" seminar on Feb. 7.

The class will begin with a power-point presentation about hibernating animals who call the park home and will include a look at how climate change is effecting species that traditionally sleep through the winter.

Following the classroom portion of the seminar, attendees will be taken on a short nature walk to see the habitats where animals may choose to sleep away the cold-weather months.

On Feb. 21, a program on squirrels and their importance to the ecology of the park will be presented. The program will examine how an overabundance of squirrels can cause problems locally, but will also show how a lack of squirrels can wreak equal havoc.

"All of our programs are open to the public," said Ondek. "Some of the events do include a hike or an outdoors activity, which is indicated in the event description on our website."

Anyone who would like to participate is asked to pre-register by calling the park office at (919) 778-6234. Additional information and a complete list of activities at the park can be found at www.ncparks.gov.