Construction Starts on Starke County Forest Access Road

Work has begun on the Starke County Forest’s new access road. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the Starke County Park Board Tuesday that his crews began the process earlier that day, working on clearing the site.

The existing trail is being upgraded into a gravel road ending at a 10-to-12-car parking lot. For that to happen, some trees had to be cut down.

Forester Bruce Wakeland said he recently removed six big spruce trees and six big white pines, and he’s agreed to let Ritzler remove two more trees that would be in the public right of way. “They weren’t the best trees to have there, even if you wanted them,” he said.

Park Board President Roger Chaffins replied, “Well, they’re not going to be there no more. They’re going, to the big tree in the sky.”

Wakeland also said the Highway Department has agreed to use some of the stumps and dirt to fill the basement of an old house that used to stand near the road. He said the house burned down back in the 1990s, but he forgot about the basement until last week. The Highway Department may also use some of the materials to help build up one of the forest’s access trails, if the Indiana Department of Natural Resources grants an exemption to let them be placed in a wetland.

Meanwhile, park board members officially signed off on the road’s site plan Tuesday, after giving their preliminary approval last month.