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KERR LAKE NC STATE RECREATION AREA SUPERINTENDENT’S WIFE PASSES

The leadership, members and friends of Kerr Lake Park Watch wish to express our heartfelt sympathies to Bryce Fleming and to all his family in the loss of his wife, Lori Fleming within the past few days. Bryce is the Superintendent of Kerr Lake State Recreation Areas.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at 2 pm at First United Methodist Church in Henderson, conducted by Pastor Terry Huffines.  The family will receive friends at a reception in the fellowship hall immediately following the service.

In addition to her parents, Lori Fleming is survived by her husband, Bryce P. Fleming and her son, Tyler of the home; her sister, Lola M Giese (Charlie) of Fort Wayne Indiana and their children Bradley, Carlie and Luke; Her mother and father-in-law, Roxanne and Bob Fleming; and brother-in-law, Greg Fleming (Anne).

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to:

  • The Nature Conservancy-TNC – NC Chapter, 334 Blackwell St. Suite 300, Durham, NC 27701;
  • American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/donate‎;
  • or Vance Aquatics Club, www.vanceaquatics.net (click “Donate Now” tab) or by mail PO Box 2051, Henderson, NC 27536 for the Lori Fleming Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Complete details may be found on the J. M. White Funeral Home website, www.jmwhitefuneralhome.com.

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas

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NC STATE PARKS QUIETLY RAISES PARK FEES & CUTS SENIOR DISCOUNTS BY 50%!

NC State Parks has quietly and confusingly raised rates and at the same time, cut senior citizen discounts by 50%.   This happened this week to Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Lead of Public Affairs, Frank Timberlake, who regularly books working trips to campgrounds around Kerr Lake, “The people at Reserve America said that they did not yet have new rates for North Carolina State Parks, which includes the seven state recreation areas at Kerr, but that they (Reserve America) were advised to begin new charges around the first of May.  I asked for a rate schedule and was refused several times.  They referred me to another person and eventually to a supervisor who could not explain very much.”

“The first thing I noticed is that they cut the senior citizen discount in half and that they upped my regular rate” continued Timberlake. “They couldn’t produce anything but they said I still had to pay a $3 per night fee for them booking the site, online or on the phone so Reserve America is still taking in the big bucks.  I had to sit on hold for 14 minutes for them to look up an old transaction and the new one I made today because Reserve America’s computers are slow according to two CSR’s and a supervisor. NC State Parks just operates in this vacuum and asks for zero input. Hell, the parks belong to us not them but one wouldn’t know it by their actions! And why should they go picking on older folks for more money?”

Conducting further research, Kerr Lake Park Watch found a short obscure notice on the NC State Park website that says the state is phasing in dynamic pricing which means a new supply and demand rate non-structure and that took effect on May 6th. The last time state parks raised rates was at the bottom of the recession in 2010, another very popular move with the public.

costs going up

North Carolina State Parks users which includes those who visit the seven State Recreation Areas at Kerr Lake pay some of the highest reservation fees in America.  Those fees, the $3 per night, means that if a camper stays at an NC State Park for two nights Reserve America charges that camper $6, but if the same camper reserves the same site for 14 nights, Reserve America charges and keeps $42, for the exact same transaction work.  It’s a one time transaction so why is it based on the number of nights?

Against the advice of other states like Virginia, NC State Parks began with the $3 charge because Reserve America supplied all the reservation software and systems.  Kerr Lake Park Watch wants to know why people have to hold long periods to make reservations and why such a steep transaction fee continues on.

Reaction to the rate hikes and senior citizen discount cut from Kerr Lake Park Watch members and campers has been direct.  KLPW Steering Committee Chair Larry Matthews said, “When our well managed park system pays $700,000 for a new bath house (Hibernia), they have to come up wih the bucks somewhere. And while we’re at it, how long does it take to hire “highly skilled and educated” park rangers. To my knowledge, we still don’t have a ranger at Hibernia. Last, check some of the RV forums. Other states use Reserve America and are no where near as pricey as our $3/night fee. Come on Raleigh!”

A camper who has grown up camping for years at Kerr Lake, Brook Cannady said, “It seems like what has been a good avenue for good family fun with reasonable rates is coming to an end . What was an economical family avenue seems to be changing but without more amenities to support the rate increases. Campers have many family camping options not priced much higher than these state campground with amenities such as pools , wifi, planned kid activities , horse shoe pits, entertainment, and with much cleaner shower facilities with actual ways to keep clothes dry in between changing area and showering space and the list can continue.  Maybe this increase will result in a decrease in park camping.”

“This is not the transparency and good state government customer service that Governor McCrory promised us.  State Parks just goes and makes changes without asking anyone anything.  It makes us think the only way to change this is at the polls,” said Timberlake.  “We will continue to raise questions and if necessary throw darts!  This is just wrong.”

 

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - MAIN NEWS

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HERE’S HOPING THE ONLY BIG BANGS IN THE SATURDAY NIGHT SKY OVER KERR LAKE…ARE THE FIREWORKS!

Some bang, bangs and a band headline this year’s 4th of July celebration at Satterwhite Point State Recreation Area.  Sponsored by the Vance County Tourism Development Authority in cooperation with NC State Parks the event typically draws crowds on the land and on the water and this year will be held on this coming Saturday, July 2 from 6:30 – 10 PM.

Here’s a flyer link with more information in case you want to share!

2016 Fireworks flyer

Enjoy and remember the meaning associated with July 4th.

2016 Fireworks jpeg kerr lake

Posted in: KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - Park Entertainment/Events

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CORPS OF ENGINEERS APPROVES & ENACTS QRR PLAN FOR KERR LAKE

Groups that support best use practices for Kerr Lake and the Roanoke River Basin are smiling this week as the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced the approval of the QRR Plan that will allow more responsive actions for handling future huge weather and subsequent flood events.  Stakeholders, representing groups like the RRBA (Roanoke River Basin Association), Kerr Lake Park Watch, Vance County Tourism Development Authority and others, like the idea of Kerr Lake being kept at a more consistent level by the QRR or Quasi-Run-of-River Plan. And downstream, supporters want the water to come through at a faster pace and move on out quicker.

Kerr Lake Dam - Lower side USACE PIC

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Photo

With recent heavy weather/rain systems threatening this past Memorial Day’s recreational activities like camping in the parks around Kerr Lake, several groups pushed to have special action taken by the commanding colonel of the Corps, but such action is rare and it did not happen. From the viewpoint of Kerr Lake Park Watch and tourism supporters, when park users can’t get to or on a site due to high water, particularly around a holiday, that is difficult in a number of ways.

During the Memorial Day holiday such an occurrence happened when some campers were moved and others were sent home. Although most of the time there are an abundance of camping sites that number about 1,200 all the way around the lake, there is a critical shortage of electric and water sites which nearly all campers want nowadays.   Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake was one of those who had to be moved during the Memorial Day holiday, “We all were eagerly awaiting some intervention for larger water releases by Wilmington (Corps) or both the approval and adoption of the QRR and neither happened then. So I am personally watching the water creep to within 20 feet or so of my camper after I had already moved once.”

Switching gears from camper to parks promoter, Timberlake said of the Corps’ adoption of QRR, “This is monumental and one of the most positive flood operational changes that I’ve ever witnessed for the John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir. We realize how many different and differently postured stakeholders are involved in the day-to-day operations of Kerr; there are flood managers, power companies, agricultural and forestry entities, fish and wildlife representatives and groups that specifically care about the parks around the lake and groups that are focused on the river(s). The Corps has listened. The Corps has responded. And many, many have won. Our joy is quieted a bit by the recent passing of Andrew Lester, the Executive Director of the RRBA who pushed diligently for this and other good things for the Roanoke River basin. I wish he could have seen it enacted.”

In a statement, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers outlined the specifics of QRR or moving the water through the system at a more realistic amount and pace, “Previously during really wet times, like we experienced this past winter, long periods of 20,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) flood releases from Kerr and Roanoke Rapids Dams were possible,” said Wilmington District Water Management Chief, Tony Young. “Prolonged 20,000 CFS flood releases were causing harm to the lower Roanoke floodplain forest ecosystem due to long periods of standing water, as well as impacting timber operations and recreational access to the floodplain. Only when Kerr lake levels were extremely high could flood releases be further increased to 25,000 and eventually 35,000 CFS, but this did not occur very often.”

Young added that under the QRR plan, flood releases will more closely mimic the natural inflows coming into Kerr on a weekly basis and may be increased above 20,000 CFS on a more frequent basis-up to a maximum of 35,000 CFS for larger storm events. While these higher releases will inundate a larger portion of the floodplain, these higher releases will be made for a much shorter period of time, allowing the river downstream of Roanoke Rapids to return to normal much sooner. In addition, lake levels in Kerr may not get as high and will return to normal levels sooner, allowing Kerr to better handle the next flood event and reducing recreation impacts.

Timberlake added that wildlife downstream was featured in discussions but Kerr Lake wildlife factors in as well, “We saw firsthand Memorial Day weekend that when we lost campsites to water at 308 (feet above mean sea level – 300’ is normal full pool) we also saw a huge amount of displaced wildlife: deer in unexpected places, more raccoon, fox and snake sightings. But we’re all going to take a big step forward now with QRR as the water will be more manageable, so shall the shores and the parks on them, thus making Kerr Lake Park Watch a group of happy campers.”

 

Posted in: KLPW - Environmental, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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VOLUNTEER DAY FOR HIBERNIA MAY 21HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO THE WEATHER FORECAST

The headquarters for Kerr Lake State Recreation Areas at Satterwhite Point has announced a Volunteer Day at Hibernia on Saturday, May 21st.  “We know it’s a little late and short notice, but there are a lot of mitigating circumstances with staff moves and some maintenance projects,” said Assistant Superintendent Lee Amos, “But we are hoping that members of Kerr Lake Park Watch and the general public will turn out for a while to help and that the weather will cooperate.”

Projects on tap for this year’s Volunteer Day include putting up some signs on some trails, recently refurbished by the maintenance and park personnel.  Several display cases that will house, for educational and informational purposes, both historical and environmental items and info have been built along some of Hibernia’s trails.

Park staff also hopes to work on the Hargrove family cemetery in which is buried the original owner and builder of Hibernia.  The cemetery needs some attention along with metal fence painting.  Real go-getters can bring limb trimming equipment and help push back limbs from campsites.  Last year’s successful Volunteer Day prompted a video about how a few can do much:  KLPW 2015 VOL DAY at HIBERNIA

Volunteers are badly needed, particularly with a short invite window.  Volunteers are asked to be at the picnic shelter between Area 2 and Area 3 on the main park road at 9:00 AM, Saturday, May 21.  For more information, contact the park office at (252) 438-7791.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Environmental, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - Park Entertainment/Events

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CORPS OF ENGINEERS ANNOUNCES HIGH WATER CLOSURES

(Boydton, VA)   Recent heavy rainfall has caused the Kerr Lake level to rise to +308 feet mean sea level. This rise has resulted in the closure of some park areas and ramps. The following is a list of the areas that are currently affected.

Areas managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers that are closed so far are: Palmer Point Beach, Liberty Hill Fishing Access, Rudd’s Day Use, Bluestone Ramp, Staunton View Day Use, Buffalo Ramp, Grassy Creek Park, Ivy Hill Day Use, and North Bend Handicap Pier.

Ramps managed by NC Division of Parks and Recreation that are closed are:

Kimball Point Ramp, JC Cooper Ramp, Nutbush Areas 1 & 3 (Tournament Ramp is OPEN),

Henderson Point Campground Ramp and Ramp at Shelter #2, and Henderson Point Wildlife Ramp.

For campers, NC Parks advises that if you had reservations at Kerr Lake starting May 6th, please contact Reserve America at 1-877-722-6762/or on-line to find out if your reservation will be effected by the flooding. They may be able to accommodate current reservations by moving them to other campsites not effected by rising waters. This will affect on-line reservations until Tuesday May 17th, 2016.

For camping with the Corps of Engineers, if you have reservations at Rudd’s Creek or Longwood, please call Recreation.gov at 1-877-444-6777 or go online to see if your site is available. For Buffalo Park, all water front sites are closed.

For more information please call any park ranger at (434) 738-6143.

In the weekly meeting this morning, the Corps meteorologist expressed concern about another weather system that he is watching that if it hangs up like the last one, could cause concern to Kerr Lake.

Posted in: KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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RISING WATERS OF KERR LAKE CONTINUE TO FORCE CAMPERS & PICNICKERS TO LEAVE OR HEAD FOR HIGHER GROUND

 

As the waters push on upwards to 308 feet above mean sea level, many campers, particularly those at the NC State Recreation Areas on Kerr Lake have been forced from their sites, some told to leave, others fearful of the rising flood waters.

DSC02342

Expected to crest sometime today, the high water has other anxious campers keeping a watchful eye.  As a number of Kerr Lake Park Watch have been camping on the western shore of the lake, an album of some flood photos has been put together on Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Facebook page:  Kerr Lake Park Watch May 2016 Flood Photo Album.  Members of the media are welcomed to use the photos so long as proper credit is given to Kerr Lake Park Watch.

“If there was ever a time when surprise weather dictates to us all that the US Army Corps of Engineers should go ahead and adopt the QRR (Quasi-Run-of-River) Plan, it is now,” said Lead Public Affairs for Kerr Lake Park Watch, Frank Timberlake, who was forced to move once while camping at Hibernia and said he may be forced to move again or leave by rapidly rising waters.  “No one can predict when a front will dump rain, and suddenly turn around, come back and dump more.  And while we’re saying open up the gates we hear from several sources, the NC Wildlife people are saying, “Don’t open the gates because the baby fish will be flushed downstream.’  QRR would help solve both those dilemmas.”

As a couple of members of Kerr Lake Park Watch toured parks this afternoon, only a few of the hardy campers who have fairly high ground sites can be found on the North Carolina side.

Posted in: KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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KERR LAKE LEVEL RISES – RUNS SOME CAMPERS OFF SITES

URGENT ALERT! The US Army Corps of Engineers this afternoon asked Kerr Lake Park Watch to assist in notifying the public with interest in the lake, that the lake is rapidly rising from an elevation of about 304.8 mean feet above sea level to 308.0 sometime Sunday. This rapid rise is due to high and somewhat unexpected rains yesterday and today ranging from 2 to 4 inches in the Roanoke River Basin all the way up to Smith Mountain Lake.

IF YOU HAVE CAMPING PLANS AT A KERR LAKE PARK, particularly those in the seven State Recreation Areas on the North Carolina side of the lake, you should call the state park office at Kerr Lake or the state reservation center. Generally, the parks on the Virginia side are not as impacted as NC at 308.0 above mean sea level. Normal full pool of Kerr Lake is 300.0.

On the NC side, rangers, maintenance people and practically all park staff have been moving some campers to available sites, sending others home and shutting down electrical camping boxes.

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - WATER RELATED, Uncategorized

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KERR LAKE PARK WATCH SENDS WRITTEN REQUEST TO NC PARKS FOR DETAILS ON HOW BOND MONEY WILL BE SPENT AT THE SEVEN KERR LAKE PARKS

Kerr Lake Park Watch made it official yesterday.  Written requests were sent to Michael Murphy, the Director of the Division of State Parks requesting written information on the bond budget and requesting that the Division of State Parks open up to the public the process of selecting projects with new bond monies.

The Lead for Public Affairs, Frank Timberlake wrote to Murphy, “Today, on behalf of the members of Kerr Lake Park Watch, I am requesting a copy of the proposed plan and budget for how many dollars are to be spent and what projects at Kerr Lake would be proposed with the Division’s share of funding, purportedly $100,000,000, of the Connect NC Bond funds.

Secondly, we are requesting that the Division of State Parks set up some kind of input and review by people who actually hike, picnic, swim and camp at those seven parks.  We feel that this can be accomplished by some form of committee, survey, possibly input meetings or some effective combination of all of those.”

Timberlake commented, “We were told that some things would be coming down the line for us to view, but I haven’t heard anything from anyone, so now we’ve put the request in writing, as we intend to be an active part of this process.”

Kerr Lake Park Watch wants to review a line-item plan and budget for the improvements to the seven State Recreation Areas on Kerr Lake with a total of the $100,000,000 to be spent from the Connect NC Bond passage several months ago.

connect nc bond

Excusing the present administration, there have been some questionable improvements, even blunders, at the seven parks in previous years and with money tight and this one-time windfall for improvements, Kerr Lake Park Watch wants to give input and to have a voice in the process of selecting projects to be completed with bond money.  Kerr Lake Park Watch has already offered to fund a survey on behalf of NC State Parks and the seven State Recreation Areas, Kimball Point, County Line, Bullocksville, JC Cooper (Satterwhite Point), Nutbush, Hibernia and Henderson Point.  Nearly 1.5 million visitors use those parks annually.  “We’ve already told them at NC State Parks and we announced it about a month ago that we will be glad to survey our members and people in the region who use the parks to find out what kind of improvements they want to see,” added Timberlake.

“This could be an awesome rebuilding year for state parks with the bond passage,” said Timberlake,  “And with the parks centennial this year, we surely want to celebrate 100 years of North Carolina’s State Parks this year by making every dollar count well towards the future of another 100 years.  So we think a good part of it should be the peoples’ decision as the parks serve them and they voted for the bond issue.”

Kerr Lake Park Watch says it hopes that Director Murphy will respond quickly with the information and with a channel for public input.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas

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NORTH CAROLINA STATE PARKS CELEBRATE 100 YEARS – SEE THE VIDEOS & SHARE

As we get ready for another active season at all the parks around Kerr Lake, there are seven of them that are actually called State Recreation Areas that are part of a year-long celebration.  The seven State Recreation Areas are on the North Carolina side of Kerr Lake and they are a part of the North Carolina Division of State Parks, now celebrating 100 years of bringing the outdoors to the state’s citizens and visitors.

The mission of the NC Division of Parks and Recreation is:

Conservation: To protect North Carolina’s natural diversity through careful selection and stewardship of state parks system lands;

Recreation: To provide and promote outdoor recreation opportunities in the state parks system and throughout the state; and

Education: To encourage appreciation of North Carolina’s natural and cultural heritage through diverse educational opportunities;

for all citizens of and visitors to the State of North Carolina.

State_Park_logo

The seven SRA’s, beginning on the northern most and eastern side of Kerr Lake and continuing clockwise are, Kimball Point, County Line, Bullocksville, Satterwhite Point (JC Cooper), Nutbush, Hibernia and Henderson Point.  Close to 1.5 million people visit these parks with a total of nearly 2.5 million visiting Kerr Lake annually.  If there are any locally planned commemorative events celebrating state parks’ 100 years, Kerr Lake Park Watch has not received any notice.  We, the more than 450 members of Kerr Lake Park Watch wish to celebrate Kerr Lake and its seven recreation areas and the men and women who support the mission of those and other state parks.  It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and we think this artwork by R F Timberlake captures the essence of our state recreation areas.

DSC01498 (2) KLPW 100 CENT w-sig (1024x768)

Several videos on the development of the North Carolina state park system and its value to citizens and visitors have been produced.  You can see these videos, an hour feature produced by UNC Public TV and the another a half-hour program produced by state parks.

UNCTV Program Link:  Saving The Best:  North Carolina Parks at 100

 

NC Division of State Parks Link:  Here In This Place

At Kerr Lake Park Watch we hope that you will continue to visit our parks around the lake and enjoy the more than 40 state parks in North Carolina.  And remember, to be a member, at no cost, simply load your email near the top right side of the blog and that’s how you receive information and offer ideas and input.

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - Park Entertainment/Events

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