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Thurmond Lake parks, campgrounds feel budget cuts

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 10:47 AM
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 4:31 AM
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Some of Thurmond Lake’s popular camping and day-use areas will open later and close earlier this year in part because of shrinking federal budgets unveiled in Washington this week.

“Instead of complete park closures, we focused on adjusting visitor services and operating seasons to lower overall operations and maintenance costs,” said operations division chief Peggy O’Bryan of the Corps of Engineers’ Savannah District.

Although the president’s fiscal 2013 civil works budget includes $66 million for projects, analyses and operations within the district, the maintenance and operations budgets were reduced for Thurmond Lake and nearby lakes Russell and Hartwell.

The proposed 2013 allocation of $27.9 million for the dams and lakes includes $9.5 million for Thurmond Lake, down from this year’s $9.8 million.

Hartwell’s $9.9 million sum is down from $10.5 million; and while Lake Russell’s operations budget increased from $7.3 million to $8.4 million, the increase was more than offset by a drop in environmental monitoring funds, which fell from $3.2 million to $1 million.

Within Thurmond Lake’s total budget is a recreation services budget that has fallen about 25 percent over the past five years – from about $5 million to $3.6 million.

Consequently, corps officials are working to cut costs while keeping the most popular sites open during the seasons of highest demand, said Aaron Wahus, Thurmond Lake’s park operations manager.

Changes coming this year include delayed openings at five campgrounds: Winfield, Big Hart, Rayesville, Modoc and Broad River. Those sites usually open March 1, and this year will open either March 15 or April 1, he said.

This fall, Rayesville and Modoc, which usually close at the end of October, will instead close Sept. 30. Clay Hill, usually open until Sept. 30, will close Sept. 3 after Labor Day weekend.

Also, the following day-use areas closed on Labor Day and will be open May 1 through Labor Day in 2012: Parksville, West Dam, Lake Springs and Amity. Boat ramps at Parksville, Lake Springs and Amity will remain open all year.

Most day-use areas previously stayed open through Sept. 30 and started closing after Labor Day last season and will continue to do so again this year, Wahus said. Small portions of day-use areas with boat ramps will remain open year-round, as they have in the past.

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david jennings
david jennings 02/14/12 - 02:07 pm
Most folks probably won't be

Most folks probably won't be able to afford the gas anyway. I never thought it would get so expensive to watch TV. Well I can still listen to radio.

seenitB4 02/15/12 - 07:10 am
You know what...this

You know what...this stinks....I know cuts have to be made but some can't afford expensive toys for kids & taking them to parks/fishing/swimming would probably be the only vacation they had....wake up folks......put America first & stop trying to save the world.......we just can't afford it.

yu nah ee tah
yu nah ee tah 02/16/12 - 07:34 am
The Corps has an incredible

The Corps has an incredible volunteer program to help offset budget shortfalls. Don't count on getting your own cubicle as you will be outside with the trees and the wind. Call the Visitor's Center to find out more. 800 533 3478.

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