Corps to Reduce Visitor Services Next Year at Hartwell & Thurmond Lakes

Corps to Reduce Visitor Services Next Year at Hartwell & Thurmond Lakes

Due to significant projected budget reductions in fiscal year 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District will reduce park operations and visitor services at lakes Hartwell and J. Strom Thurmond during the 2014 recreation season.

We will close one campground and five day use areas on Hartwell Lake, and four campgrounds on Thurmond Lake. In addition, we will partially close two day-use areas on Hartwell Lake, and two day use areas and two campgrounds on Thurmond Lake, with only the boat ramps remaining open in those areas.

We selected recreation areas for full or partial closures based on an analysis of our recreation program, which included visitation numbers, costs to operate and maintain parks, and the location of similar facilities. We selected these recreation areas to minimize impacts to the public and surrounding communities while achieving the necessary cost reductions.

“We considered alternatives to maintaining park operations and acceptable visitor services within funding limitations, such as complete park closures, partial closures, seasonal reductions, and reduced visitor services,” said Peggy O’Bryan, chief of operations for the Corps’ Savannah District.

“During 2012 and 2013, we avoided complete closures of recreation areas at Hartwell and Thurmond by reducing service levels and shortening operating seasons to lower overall operations and maintenance costs,” O’Bryan said. “Reduction in service levels includes reducing frequency in cleaning, mowing, water safety outreach, trash collection and some maintenance. Unfortunately, continued funding constraints and uncertainties have resulted in further actions for the 2014 season.”

Displaced visitors are encouraged to use other Corps-operated parks that remain open or areas operated by state and local governments or commercial concessionaires. We will continue to operate eight campgrounds, 10 day use areas, and 28 boat ramp/access areas on Hartwell Lake; and seven campgrounds, seven day use areas, and 15 boat ramp/access areas on Thurmond Lake. There are still plenty of opportunities for recreation at the lakes.

Corps officials are currently communicating with local county governments to investigate potential park lease options that could keep recreation areas open to the public.

“The Corps, along with our state and local partners, will continue to provide public recreation opportunities,” O’Bryan said. “However, fiscal constraints create challenges to recreation program services at Corps projects.”

The complete and partial closures are listed in the tables below. Except as noted, all affected recreation areas closed at the end of the 2013 recreation season and will not reopen in 2014.

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