A handful of state parks remain closed for holiday weekend

HARTFORD — Only a handful of Connecticut's 110 parks still remain closed to the public following a recent major storm, which included two confirmed tornadoes.

Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden and Wharton Brook State Park in Wallingford will remain closed through the Memorial Day weekend. It's unclear when they will reopen. Meanwhile, parts of Kettletown State Park in Southbury will continue to be closed, but state officials said Wednesday the park's sold-out campgrounds will be open for Memorial Day camping.

At one point, five state parks had to close following the May 15 storm, which knocked down numerous trees in the parks, including as many as 100 at Kettletown State Park. Chris Collibee, a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said nearly 10 acres of pine trees in a picnic area at Sleeping Giant were "largely wiped out," with the tops of many trees sheared off by the high winds.

"I know that people are frustrated. I know that people love these parks that are closed. But they are closed for a reason," Collibee said. "When you're hiking, we don't want a branch to fall on you."

The National Weather Service confirmed that two tornadoes had touched down in the state. An EF1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 110 mph moved along a 9 ½ mile path between Beacon Falls and Hamden. A second EF1 tornado with peak winds of 100 mph moved along a 4 ½ mile path between Southbury and Oxford.

Two people in New Fairfield and Danbury were killed in separate accidents when trees fell on their trucks, including a woman whose 3-year-old child escaped injury.

Eversource, the state's largest energy provider, had to clear up 300 miles of downed power lines and 1,800 broken poles.

The state has also closed the boat launches at Squantz Pond State Park and Candlewood Lake through Memorial Day.

"While power has been restored to the park, much of New Fairfield is still recovering from last week's storm," said New Fairfield First Selectwoman Pat Del Monaco. "Due to catastrophic storm damage, our town cannot safely accommodate additional traffic on town roads at this time, including vehicles pulling boats."

For a complete list of Connecticut State Parks visit: ct.gov/deep/stateparks.

This marks the first summertime season that vehicles with Connecticut registrations will be allowed to enter state parks for free. It's due to the newly launched Passport to Parks program, where $10 is added to motor vehicle registrations to help raise money for state parks and forests.

 

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