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Vogt's Notes: Trees are at mercy of storms, progress, safety

Trees branches and trunks cover a drive near Gull Lake after the August 4, 2016 severe thunderstorm swept through the area. file photo.

As we approach the one- and two-year anniversaries of devastating windstorms that forever altered the lakes area landscape, I'm still having a hard time seeing all the downed trees and getting used to the wide open spaces.

The scenery will improve when trees sprout leaves and the terrain turns green again. But almost two years later, I'm still nearly brought to tears when I walk by a former forest near my house that was clear-cut after the July 12, 2015, storm, or when I drive the length of Green Gables Road and still see the twisted, tangled and overturned trees, along with homes that once were surrounded by trees. Many trees remain upright but with their tops sheared off.

This area and others still look odd because they are so bright, bare and open.

The same feelings overcome me when I drive near Gull Lake's Hole-in-the-Day Bay or down County State Aid Highway 77 in Lake Shore. Those areas were hit hard during an Aug. 4, 2016, severe windstorm.

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August 4 Severe Thunderstorm - KLICK! Photo Gallery

Klick! here to view!

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It just makes me so sad. Mother Nature can be so wicked.

Of course, trees also come down in the name of progress and safety. Remember when trees lined both sides of Highway 371 from the north end to the south end? Over the past many years, trees have been cleared to make way for car dealerships, big-box stores and littler stores.

It's only been a little more than a year since trees came down along Highway 371 from Nisswa north to Jenkins for the four-lane highway project. We get used to the landscape we drive every day, and it's hard to remember what it looked like just last year.

This week another lakes area road improvement project started that will change the landscape of a nostalgic roadway — County State Aid Highway 77 through Lake Shore. Rest assured, planners worked hard to end up with a road that retains its character as it winds through the forest around Gull Lake.

The goal of both the Highway 371 and CSAH 77 road projects is to improve travelers' safety. It's hard to argue with that.

As crews resume work for a second summer on Highway 371, and begin working on CSAH 77, I urge motorists to drive carefully. It's hard not to gawk, but it's better to keep your eyes on the road directly in front of you.

And don't forget to put those cell phones away while driving.

Here's to a summer free of devastating windstorms.