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Leith Run closed again

Campground flooded just days after re-opening

9-15 Leith 1 CHAD PLAUCHE'-ADKINS The Marietta Times Ranger Jason Reed surveys the flood damage at Leith Run Campground on Friday morning.

As Jason Reed, Athens district ranger for the Wayne National Forest, stepped out of his truck Friday morning all he could say was, “What a mess.”

Inches of silt had collected over most of Leith Run Campground near New Matamoras in flooding earlier in the week, forcing its closure for the remainder of the season. The campground had just re-opened four days prior to the recent high water after flooding in February caused extensive damage.

After months of cleanup it was heartbreaking for everybody at the Marietta Unit of the Athens Ranger District to see the campground shut down so soon after opening, forest officials said.

“Everybody worked really hard just to have it open only four days,” said Marsha Newell, information receptionist for the Marietta Unit.

“It’s not as bad as the spring flood. Last time the water got into the buildings and ruined lawnmowers and other equipment,” Reed said.

Water damage isn’t the problem that Reed fears the most, though. It’s mud.

“It cakes absolutely everything. Our electrical outlets at the campsites get packed full of mud,”he said.

The flagship campground of the Athens Ranger District of Wayne National Forest can’t survive long term with flooding trends like these, said Reed.

“The campground hasn’t flooded in years. Having it happen twice in one year is too much,” he said.

A 1997 graduate of Frontier High School, Reed has a personal connection to the site and understands all that has been done to improve it over the years.

“When I was a kid and would camp here the entire site was just gravel,” he said.

Now Leith Run has electricity at its campsites, shower facilities and a playground as well as other amenities. Reed is planning on organizing a community meeting this winter to address the flooding problem at the campground.

“Regardless if it’s protection, moving or losing some of the infrastructure at the campsite, something has to be done. The campground is an asset to the community and I want to hear their ideas,” he said.

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