Closure of Hocking Hills State Park Impacts Businesses

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Justin Wood runs three short-term rentals near the park and is seeing cancellations ahead of the long weekend.

LOGAN, Ohio — As part of the big resignation, Justin Wood said goodbye to his corporate job and entered the world of short-term rental lodging. He runs three in Logan next to Hocking Hills State Park.

With the long weekend coming up he had all three booked and now one group has backed out.

“It’s a loss of about $500,” he said.

He had to announce to his guests that the park was closed.

“What is the reason the national park was closed? He asked. “And how are you going to judge when it’s safe to reopen?”

“Closures have been rare. We take the closure very seriously because we want to provide this recreational opportunity for our guests,” said Tylor Stimmel, natural resources officer at Hocking Hills State Park.

Tylor Stimmel is a natural resources officer at Hocking Hills. He has worked there for five years and grew up nearby. He said he had never seen a closure before because of the ice.

“For the park to reopen, it’s a multi-step process,” he explained. “So every day our leaders here at the park come in and watch the trails. We have maintenance crews on the trails trying to improve these conditions. Hopefully the weather will be favorable when we do this.

Wednesday’s weather was windy and warm, raising concerns across the region about falling trees and an overnight freeze-up.

Two weeks ago an ice storm knocked down many trees and knocked out power for days.

“Of course, there’s always the risk with cliffs and high-rise incidents that occur in our trail system,” Stimmel said. “But ice is another factor that adds a higher level of danger.”

On Wednesday afternoon, orange cones blocked the main entrance to the park. It’s unclear how soon that could change.

“To the business owners we have in the area, all I can ask is that you hang in there, we are doing our best to reopen the trails to our customers and visitors,” Stimmel said.

For business owners like Justin Wood, it’s grateful there are guests who still want to get away.

“Basically, we’re asking our customers to check out what’s still open,” Wood said.

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