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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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KERR LAKE PARK WATCH LEADS EFFORTS TO GET PUBLIC INPUT INTO IMPROVEMENT PROCESS

Kerr Lake Park Watch wants Kerr Lake to get its share of the Connect NC Bond. The portion of Town Talk on WIZS that discusses spending bond funds on the 7 NC State Recreation Areas runs from minutes 4.5 until 18.5 minutes of the show. You can cue up the Kerr Lake Park Watch part of the show by selecting the minute marks on the orange slide on the show you can find at: https://soundcloud.com/user-96612206/town-talk-031716

PLEASE LISTEN and then write to state parks telling Director Michael Murphy you want a voice in Kerr Lake park improvements and a view of the budget! Write to this email: michael.murphy@ncparks.gov and copy us at info@kerrlakeparkwatch.org.

wizs-listen-live

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

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CONNECT NC BOND PASSES – WHAT IMPROVEMENTS CAN WE EXPECT AT THE 7 KERR LAKE STATE RECREATIONS AREAS?

We rarely hear any news about what is going on with NC State Parks out of Raleigh.  And now that there is big news like the passage of the Connect NC bond, those of us who ardently support our parks on the shores of the John H. Kerr Reservoir are wondering about the plan for expenditures and improvements on the North Carolina side.

“We’re wondering if there will be opportunity for public input as to what things are needed at the SRA’s (state recreation areas).  Historically, NC State Parks have operated in a vacuum passing down already decided policies from Raleigh, said Kerr Lake Park Watch spokesman Frank Timberlake, adding, ” I think I can count on less than one finger the number of press releases or meeting invitations we’ve had from the Division of State Parks in recent years.  They’re certainly not famous for seeking public involvement.  But mark this, we intend to be involved, visible and vocal on the expenditure of these funds, maybe the last dollars of their type for quite some time.”

Timberlake said that the support group is generally pleased with the passage of the $2 Billion Connect NC bond yesterday.  North Carolina’s infrastructure has been crumbling for some time.  A big concern is that NC State Parks is that the system has been acquiring more and more land areas without committed development funds.

“Our biggest concern now is how the $100,000,000 will be split up among parks and the state zoo.  Larger and more pertinent than that split is determining what amount of bond funds will come to the seven state recreation areas that NC STATE Parks operates on Kerr Lake.

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Transparency has not happened as no known groups including Kerr Lake Park Watch have been asked by the Division of State Parks on how the public who use the seven parks think they should be improved,” said Timberlake.

Kerr Lake Park Watch will now start digging through the bureaucracy to find these answers and to bring them out to view for our members and the public.

 

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

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STARRY, STARRY NIGHT…AS THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT SATURDAY NIGHT

 Staunton River Star Party public viewing night March 12

(SCOTTSBURG) – The public is invited to visit Staunton River State Park for an evening of stargazing on Saturday, March 12, 8 to 11 p.m. Visitors will be able to view a variety of planets, star clusters, and other celestial objects through telescopes. Seasoned astronomers will share information about the night sky.

Staunton River State Park was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2015. Staunton River Star Party takes place in the park twice a year, in March and April. Star party participants who have pre-registered will be set up in the observing field near the visitor center.

The park also offers star gazing programs throughout the year.

Visitors should dress for the weather and bring a flashlight, preferably one with a red lens. Red cellophane will be provided to cover flashlights if needed. Food and beverages will be available for purchase at the “Deep Sky Diner” located in the park bathhouse.

Parking will be at the pool parking lot adjacent to the Visitor Center, in order to keep car headlights off the viewing area. The public viewing night on March 12 is free of charge.

For more information about the event visit www.stauntonriver-starparty.org

Staunton River State Park is located in Halifax County at 1170 Staunton Trail, Scottsburg, VA. For park information you may call 434-572-4623, or email stauntonriver@dcr.virginia.gov.

For general information or to make overnight reservations at Staunton River or any of Virginia’s 36 award-winning state parks go to www.virginiastateparks.gov or call toll-free 800-933-7275.

 

Posted in: KLPW - Park Entertainment/Events, KLPW- Staunton River State Park

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CORPS OF ENGINEERS RAISES USER FEES FOR KERR LAKE PARKS – SOME UP 50%

March 1, 2016 – New User Fees for Kerr Lake Parks           (From KerrLakeGuide.com)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 – Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Beginning March 1, 2016 fees at the US Army Corps of Engineers Day Use parks and some camping fees at Kerr (Buggs Island) Lake will change. The fee changes are part of a nationwide effort to bring the Corps’ user fees in line with state and private facilities, as well unify the Corps fee program.

The following changes are simplified and outlined for you below:

(1) Day Use Fees increase from $4 per vehicle to $5. This fee includes area boat ramps, swim beaches, picnic areas, etc.

(2) There is no longer a 50% discount for Day Use! If you have a Golden Age, Golden Access, America the Beautiful Senior, or an America the Beautiful Access you get in Day Use FREE!!

(3) The Corps Annual Pass (valid at Corps parks nationwide) has increased from $30 to $40. (There is no half-price discount, as those eligible for the discount now get in Day Use FREE!)

(4) Picnic Shelters have increased from $35 to $50 at most Corps parks. The Old Picnic Area at Kerr Dam is $100 per day. The Osage Shelter at North Bend Park is $75 per day. No discounts apply!

(5) Some Fishing Tournament Permits and other Special Event permits increased from $50 to $75. (All activities require a permit; however, some may be a minimal or no charge. Contact the Visitor Assistance Center at number below for information.)

(6) The Visitor Pass for North Bend, Rudd’s Creek, Longwood and Buffalo Campgrounds is $4. You can use your Golden Age/Access or ATB Senior/Access and pay $2. You can no longer use a Corps Annual Pass for free visits to your camping friends.

(7) The group camping fees at North Bend have increased: Piney Woods is $125 per night; Mays Chapel Group is $100 per night. No discounts apply!

(8) There are many new passes available! America the Beautiful Annual Pass (free entry at any Federal Agency park) is $80 and is available for purchase on-line or from the Corps.

(9) The popular “Every Kid in a Park” pass is available for 4th graders and their families, FREE! Please visit www.everykidinapark.gov then contact Ranger Juanita at the number below.

(10) There are other passes available to our Military.

Call for more information: (434) 738-6143. Ask for any Park Ranger.

Posted in: KLPW - Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS

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OFFICIAL “FOR” COMMENT ON QRR PLAN FROM KERR LAKE PARK WATCH SENT TO CORPS

Kerr Lake Park Watch has sent its comments for the official record to the US Army Corps of Engineers.  “This is a precise and concise document in favor of the QRR (Quasi-Run-of-River) Plan, partly from us and partly from the RRBA,” said Frank Timberlake, Kerr Lake Park Watch spokesman.  “We have a number of people who have copied the short version off of our Facebook page and the public is certainly free to use this example, but it must be sent to the Corps by tomorrow night at 11:59.”

The Corps email address is:  eric.k.gasch@usace.army.mil

Mr. Eric Gasch, QRR Comments
US Army Corps of Engineers

Although we have not been in touch with the entire membership of the 400+ persons of Kerr Lake Park Watch, the majority of those reached concur that we as a group are in support of the Corps’ adoption of the QRR (Quasi-Run-of-River) Plan.  As the Public Affairs Lead, I am requesting that our opinion and comments go into the official comments record.

COMMENT:

The Roanoke River’s flow has been significantly affected by three dams near the Virginia/North Carolina border. Current dam operations hold large amounts of water in place for unnaturally long periods of time during wet years – causing long periods of flooding, damaging timber, wildlife, and fish. In turn, people who live along the river and depend upon it are also hurt. Since 2000, many conservation stakeholders, resource agencies, local property owners, and other conservation partners have worked with the Corps of Engineers (COE) to improve dam operations at Kerr Reservoir, reducing consequences to people and nature. Today the COE is proposing changing its operations.

Our first reasons are of course, based on recreational and tourism motives.  We feel that QRR will provide:

Improved Conditions in Public Parks & Public Areas – Controlling the flow of the Roanoke River through Kerr Lake using the QRR Plan would help prevent as much water as now that gets onto public parks lands.  If water levels did elevate to where it covered public areas, the use of the QRR plan would get that water off faster.

Improved Conditions for Public and Private Roads Near Flood Prone Areas – With the QRR Plan in effect, the COE could move flood waters off of public roadways and private areas much faster which has to be a huge factor towards public safety not to mention erosion and the costs of road, bridge and public area repair.

Improved Timber Stands Scientific research shows that continuing current operations, with long periods of flooding, will lead to loss of valuable hardwood trees such as oak and hickory. Over time, the forest will convert to trees with less value on the timber market such as sweet gum and red maple. Changing dam operations will reduce flood times and allow oaks and other hardwoods to flourish, which is good news for property owners along the river.

More Time on the River and in Forests of the FloodplainCurrent operations, with their high water levels, block access to the floodplain for long periods of time. Changing the dam operations will give anglers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts more time to enjoy the area. That’s good news for recreational users of the river; it is also good for the many businesses that cater to recreational users.

More Food for WildlifeAs oak trees disappear so do their acorns, which are a major source of food for deer, squirrels and other wildlife.  Changing the dam operations will keep the acorns dropping and ensure continued abundance of wildlife, which is good news for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts.

Improved Water Quality Holding large amounts of water behind dams or in the downstream floodplain for long periods of time leads to lower levels of oxygen in the water. The fish and other animals are hurt, particularly in hot summer months. Changing the dam operations will improve oxygen in the water – reducing fish kills and ensuring that fish thrive in the Roanoke, which is good news for anglers.

Reducing ErosionLong periods of flooding lead to banks eroding and collapsing. Changing dam operations will reduce shoreline erosion on the river and in the Reservoir, which is good news for property owners.

Increasing Flood StorageCurrent operations result in sustained high reservoir levels, reducing capacity for storage of additional storm events.

Again, please see that my supportive email for the passage of the QRR plan is included in the record and counted as a very loud, “FOR!”

Thank you and best wishes,

Frank Timberlake
Lead, Public Affairs
KERR LAKE PARK WATCH
Office (919) 269-4300
Cell (919) 805-0055

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

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YOU CAN MAKE THE WATER LEVELS AT KERR LAKE BETTER…WITH JUST ONE EMAIL

Kerr lake Park Watch is working right up to Friday’s deadline to get its members and the public to support the adoption of the QRR Plan by the U S Army Corps of Engineers.  Kerr Lake Park Watch public affairs lead, Frank Timberlake appeared on Henderson radio station WIZS’s TOWN TALK this morning urging people to send just a short email to the Corps.

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The urgency is that this is the last week to make comments that count in the Corps’s official record of the 216 or water administration plan for Kerr Lake. THIS IS THE LAST WEEK TO MAKE COMMENTS TO CORPS.

Timberlake told the radio audience, “If people want higher and more consistent water levels on Kerr Lake, they have this one window of a few days to help make that difference. QRR = better water levels and conditions for Kerr Lake.”

Kerr Lake Park Watch wants to help Kerr Lake sustain more consistent levels to help recreation and tourism and is asking its members and interested citizens around the lake and those who visit Kerr Lake to take a few minutes to help for years. “It’s just a few minutes to write an email that can help so many aspects of Kerr Lake, its residents and its visitors, said, Kerr Lake Park Watch spokesman, Frank Timberlake.  “You need to write to the U S Army Corps of Engineers in support of adopting the QRR plan during the last days of the comment period.  QRR is simply, Quasi-Run-of-River, which means letting the water flow downstream more naturally than holding it up.

As a property owner, camper, hiker, fisherman or other Kerr Lake user, the adoption of QRR by the Corps into the overall 216 plan that dictates the administration of Kerr Lake would benefit you by less flooding as witnessed recently, more public areas not under water, more consistent and higher lake levels because water would be more naturally sent downstream, quicker.”

The Roanoke River Basin Association (RRBA) puts passage of QRR like this: “Restoring more natural flow to the Roanoke: It’s good news for people and nature, improved timber stands, more growth time on the river and in forests of the floodplain, promotes more food for wildlife, improved water quality, provides for reducing erosion, and increasing flood storage.”

Timberlake, the public affairs officer for Kerr Lake Park Watch said, “Our two big points we actually want to insert in the front of that list are: (1) to keep more water off public areas and (2) to increase tourism traffic to Kerr Lake both in the secondary and primary seasons. So it’s now or never, put up or shut up regarding Kerr Lake Water Levels.  If QRR is adopted by the Corps of Engineers, everyone wins.  Write the emails, now!”

The time to enter public comment about QRR being adopted by the Corps, is now as the last date in the comment period is Friday, January 29th.

Kerr Lake Park Watch has both short and long email/letter samples, which are free to the public and easily can be obtained by writing to info@kerrlakeparkwatch.org.  The official and the email address at the U S Army Corps of Engineers that public comment about QRR should be sent to is:

Eric Gasch at eric.k.gasch@usace.army.mil.

Late 2015 and early 2016 have seen a number of flood days on both local Kerr Lake roads and public areas. A Comparison of Existing and QRR Flood Operations — 2015-2016 which is plot graphic provided by Ashley Hatchell of the Water Management section of the Corps of Engineers, clearly shows the advantages of the QRR plan. The only disadvantages of QRR would be what power companies call “water spillage” which means water that moves through the system freely without having generated hydroelectric power.

QRR_current_thruFeb(11x17)

“What the QRR plan does in effect is to move the flow quicker and to allow for higher lake levels when normal conditions exist,” said Timberlake, adding, “And with Kerr Lake Park Watch, really high lake levels are among our top complaints for recreation and tourism.  So now the public can either help make QRR happen or learn to like what’s been happening to Kerr in recent years.  At Kerr Lake Park Watch, we hope they’ll write the public comment emails.”

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

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