“There have been reductions in seasons and service levels at every recreation area on Thurmond Lake,” corps spokesman Billy Birdwell said. Cuts have been made gradually over the past five to 10 years, he said.
The plans at Hartwell include closing one primitive campground and partially closing six day-use areas for the 2013 season, in addition to maintaining the reductions in park seasons and service levels implemented in 2012.
Peggy O’Bryan, the corps’ Savannah District operations division chief, said complete park closures and other more drastic measures at Hartwell were avoided because of cuts made in 2012.
“Unfortunately, continued funding constraints and uncertainties have resulted in further actions for the 2013 season,” she said.
Reduction in service levels includes reducing frequency in cleaning, mowing, water-safety outreach, trash collection and some maintenance. These actions will affect corps-operated campgrounds and day-use areas that remain open.
Thurmond Lake has several initiatives to offset recreation funding that has declined 20 percent or more in recent years.
The project’s expanded volunteer program offers participants a place to stay in its “Volunteer Village” campground on a scenic peninsula near Modoc, S.C., which has water and electrical hookups, a high-speed Internet connection and a boat ramp. Volunteers help with maintenance and special projects, including the placement of underwater fish attractors made from discarded Christmas trees.
This year, a cooperative management plan was established in which a nonprofit corporation, Lake Thurmond Campgrounds, was awarded a five-year contract to manage Petersburg, Ridge Road, Modoc, Raysville and Winfield campgrounds.
The company will manage the sites under a commercial business model, meaning they can advertise, conduct marketing campaigns, offer retail items and – perhaps most importantly – reinvest revenue back into the parks that generated them.
Corps officials estimate the arrangement will translate to an annual savings of $300,000 to $400,000 a year.