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High Water of Kerr Lake Over Memorial Day Weekend Is Just the Beginning – After Campers – The Big Sweep Begins

The people who have been visiting Kerr Lake over the long Memorial Day weekend and who did not have their plans canceled or dampened by a daunting 308.68-foot Kerr Lake flooded level, that’s over eight and a half feet over full pool, are trickling out of the campgrounds, boat ramps and day-use areas.

Forecasts say that the people will be replaced instead, with more rain.  The lake is much lower now in preparation for this week’s rains, 305.25 feet today at noon.  That’s not much consolation to the 1000’s who were turned away from many public parks on the lake with low-lying public areas beginning late last week.  Kerr Lake Park Watch tried to encourage the US Army Corps of Engineers to release water from Kerr earlier and with more release volume, but the releases came too late to save a lot of the camping extended weekend for park users.

Now comes the cleanup and that’s no small task.  People who use Virginia, North Carolina or US Army Corps of Engineers’ parks during high water and those who had to cancel plans because of high water, generally don’t think about the aftermath.

Believe us when we say that the maintenance crews all around Kerr Lake were scurrying this morning before 8:00 AM.  First, there’s a general washup of trash, leaves and all kinds of debris left on the various flood rings as the water level recedes.  That’s one job and a large one.  Secondly, large limbs and trees are resting where they’re not supposed to be, on roads, in campsites, in picnic areas, even on picnic tables.


We saw several different crews mobilized in several different parks with Bobcats, backhoes, tractors, plus shovels and rakes, all cleaning up from Kerr’s high-water weekend.  Thirdly, electrical boxes, power and water must be restored to the specific areas that were under water, which is considerable at any level over 306 feet above sea level.

Meanwhile, park office phones have subsided with floods of calls about cancellations.  We asked approximately 20 campers who had to be moved in various parks if Reserve America notified them and they responded, all of them with a “no,” that they were notified by their respective park service.  That process probably continues as canceled Memorial Day weekend park visitors will either get refunds or their camping times rescheduled.

For those of us who come to Kerr Lake for whatever recreational purpose, we see our value-added coming from the maintenance people, whom we regard as contributing the most to the camping experience.  With Kerr Lake and her floods, storms, winds and whatever else she can hurl at park workers and the public, we think all maintenance and park care-takers should take a bow.  The next time you are in a Kerr Lake park, you should stop one and thank them.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas

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Spring has sprung and camping season at Kerr Lake has begun and we at Kerr Lake Park Watch want to update on park openings.

Although there are some year-round sections that are open during the winter in some of the campgrounds around Kerr Lake, most of them open around Spring.


The two Virginia State Parks on Kerr Lake opened recently according to Visitor Services Director for Virginia State Parks, Nancy Heltman who said, “We opened camping season the first Friday in March which was the 2nd. Yes, the weekend of the nor’easter and now a snow storm on the first full day of Spring. Been a tough start to the year.”

Heltman added that the new Splash Park at Occoneechee State Park in Clarksville will open when the weather warms but an exact date is not yet known.


In North Carolina where there are seven State Recreation Areas, Superintendent Bryce Fleming updated Kerr Lake Park Watch with a comprehensive list of park and sectional openings:

Park Name                                            Opening Date                          Closing Date

Bullocksville    All Sites                      March 26, 2018                       October 1, 2018

County Line     All Sites                      March 26, 2018                       October 1, 2018

Henderson Point         Area 1             May 21, 2018                          October 1, 2018

Area 2                                                     March 26, 2018                       October 1, 2018

Group Area                                           March 26, 2018                        October 1, 2018

Hibernia                     Area 1              May 21, 2018                          September 3, 2018

Area 2              March 26, 2018                       October 29, 2018

Area 3              May 21, 2018                          September 3, 2018

Group Area     March 26, 2018                        October 29, 2018

Kimball Point             Area 1              May 21, 2018                          October 1, 2018

Area 2              March 26, 2018                       October 29, 2018

Nutbush                      Area 1              March 26, 2018                       October 1, 2018

Area 3              Open All Year                          Open All Year

Area 4              May 21, 2018                          September 3, 2018

Satterwhite Point/J.C. Cooper  Area 1 (Sites 1-42, 80-104, H1, H2, H3)

Open All Year                          Open All Year

Area 2 (Sites 43-79)    March 26, 2018                       October 29, 2018

Area 3 (Sites 111-123)    May 21, 2018           September 3, 2018

Group Area     March 26, 2018    October 29, 2018



The US Army Corps of Engineers operates several parks that offer camping as well as a number of day-use areas.  The campgrounds include North Bend Park, Rudd’s Creek, Longwood Park, and Buffalo Landing.

While there is no readily available list of campground opening and closing dates, there is a recreational link on the USACE website that gives some park information and contact info.  That link is:  http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation.aspx.

The weather is the major player in enjoying all these parks and campgrounds around Kerr Lake. So watch it, watch for it and plan accordingly.

With regards to getting out on the waters of Kerr Lake, please remember this, LIFE JACKETS WORN, NOBODY MOURNS!

To all of the 580+ members of Kerr Lake Park Watch and on behalf of them, we who operate Kerr Lake Park Watch wish you a wonderful camping and park season!

Posted in: KLPW - Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - Occoneechee State Park, KLPW - PARK LIST, KLPW- Staunton River State Park

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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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The 306’ water level at Kerr Lake is anticipated to lower to only about 305-feet above sea level for this weekend, the Memorial Day holiday.  In a testy, if not often heated meeting yesterday, the US Army Corps of Engineers took repeated questions and some direct hits from downstream farmers, the Roanoke River Basin Association, Kerr Lake Park Watch, other groups and citizens for varied concerns about the current high water.

A rain system entering the watershed last Thursday dumped as much as six inches of rain and was pretty much on target to be right over the areas of Kerr and its tributaries.   It caused a swift increase in the lake level from about 301.5’ to almost 307’ in the past few days.  That fact had people from various groups including Kerr Lake Park Watch asking the Corps in yesterday’s meeting, “Why is there a reduced flow of 15,000 CFS instead of 20,000 or 35,000 CFS (cubic feet per second of water flow)? The answer given is that it is a critical time for Striped Bass making their way from the ocean up the Roanoke River to spawn.  If the water flow is too great, the fish don’t reproduce well.

While that answer may appease some, it’s not the best of news for campers at Kerr Lake.  “We understand that the lake is a complex entity for flood control, power generation, farming considerations, recreation, saving Virgin Cyprus trees and spawning fish,” commented Kerr Lake Park Watch Public Affairs Lead, Frank Timberlake, “But it’s tough, especially on the North Carolina side to tell 25% of the campers with reservations that they don’t have a spot for the first big camping holiday of the year, and it’s a site they had already reserved. Being four feet over the Corps’ guide curve because of striped bass is hard to explain to those folks; I’d certainly hate to try to explain it.  Kerr Lake is its own Geo-Tourism area and we have to continue to make sure that fact ranks and ranks high with lake decision-makers.

Bryce Fleming, Superintendent of the seven NC Kerr Lake State Recreation areas told KLPW today, “We have 150 campsites park-wide that will be unusable this weekend based on the current prediction.  The call center has a list of all impacted sites and is contacting all impacted campers via telephone and/or email.  The most recent lake level prediction for the beginning of Memorial Day weekend is about 305’ and continuing to recede slowly afterwards. That said, if campers want to check to make sure their sites are not flooded, they can call the park office at (252) 438-7791.”  Fleming added, “I know the timing of this flood is frustrating for Kerr Lake campers.  It is frustrating for us too because, up until 5/16, we were looking at having one of the best Memorial Day weekends in years.  I am updating the ALERT on our website today to make it current, www.ncparks.gov.”

Campgrounds under the operation of the US Army Corps of Engineers on the Virginia side of Kerr Lake have fared much better because typically, they are on higher ground.  “We have only about 15 campsites off our grid,” said Michael Womack, the OPS MGR for the Corps at Kerr.   â€œWe have contacted our campers that are impacted by the flooding of the sites listed above.  We have been able to accommodate all of our camping reservations for the weekend. If people have additional questions concerning Corps operated facilities they can call the Visitor Assistance Center at (434) 738-6143. We are hoping that we will be at 305 by Friday/Saturday but we will have to continue monitor inflows and adjust as needed.”  As the lake level lowers public areas affected return to public access and use.

Yesterday’s Corps meeting of the water management group provided some information that some swim areas, beaches and boat ramps on the Virginia side are closed.  The two Virginia State Parks on Kerr Lake are apparently not affected.  For the NC side, Fleming also confirmed that boat ramps, flooded bridges and that information will be updated on the park’s website.

Meanwhile, 25% of those campers who have plans for Kerr Lake on the North Carolina side will need to rethink what their family and friends will be for the upcoming holiday weekend.


FIND OUT WHEN WE DO…www.facebook.com/kerrlakeparkwatch or www.kerrlakeparkwatch.org.

Posted in: KLPW - Boating and Related Improvements, KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Camping Safety, KLPW - Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - WATER RELATED, KLPW - Water Safety

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Kerr Lake Park Watch has issued a HIGH WATER NOTICE for Memorial Day Weekend.  Several KLPW members constantly monitor the water level of Kerr Lake which is measured hourly by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  The normal “full pool” level is 300 feet.  That means that the lake level is 300 feet above mean sea level.

KLPW member Larry Matthews is one of those who has kept a sharp eye on the water level for years.  “I monitor the lake level every morning and my wife will tell you that I’m anal about it,” said Matthews.

Matthews pointed out that the lake has risen over six (6) feet since last Thursday (5/15/14).  He added, “There’s a lot of the public areas at Hibernia for camping and picnicking that are pretty much totally underwater, mostly due to last Thursday’s monsoons.”

Matthews is referring to heavy rains that moved into the Kerr Lake area last Thursday and dumped multiple inches of rain into the lake and widely over the lake’s watershed.  Matthews recorded a lake level of 306.94 this morning and at 10:00 PM the lake level was 306.76.

Matthews offered Memorial Day weekend visitors and campers some pre-checking advice, “If you are planning on camping this weekend at Kerr Lake, especially on sites around the water, you better check with your respective park reservation system or park officials about the availability of your campsite.”

Kerr Lake’s high water level comes at a particularly bad time as Memorial Day Weekend is an unofficial kick off to all things water and outdoors at the lake.  The Memorial Day holiday, July Fourth, and Labor Day are the three highest attendance weekends out of every year.  Traditionally, most parks book every campsite, picnic shelter and facilities on those three holidays.

Kerr Lake Park Watch has sent the three agencies responsible for camping on the lake request for information in order to ascertain how many sites may removed from the camping inventory due to flooding.

Posted in: KLPW - Camping Safety, KLPW - Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW- Staunton River State Park

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Larry Matthews is a dedicated camper and has been camping at Kerr Lake most of his life.  He is also one of the strong supporters of KLPW and what park logistics that are unfamiliar to him, he makes up with good common sense.  Mr. Matthews wrote this item as a comment.  We felt that the KLPW members and readers deserved to see this most excellent idea directly on the blog.

“Did you see that Crowders Mountain park was named NC Park of the year? (http://www.wral.com/crowders-mountain-named-nc-park-of-the-year/13256185/) I found it very interesting that one of the key factors that led to Crowders Mountain park receiving the recognition was “regular volunteer work days”. Once again I’ll beat this seemingly dead horse, volunteer work days at the NC parks on Kerr Lake would help the low budgeted and understaffed park management team to do a lot of good around the lake.

NC PARKS NORTH REGION AND KERR LAKE PARK MANAGEMENT TEAM, IF YOU ARE LISTENING…..you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Simply reach out to your peers down at Crowder Mountain and use their volunteer plan as the basis for a similar plan for parks on Kerr Lake. With effective planning and communications to Kerr Lake campers, volunteer days would be a big success.”

The rest of the leadership of Kerr Lake Park Watch agrees with Mr. Matthews.  N C STATE PARKS, VIRGINIA STATE PARKS and the U S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS need to quickly review a composite of working parks volunteer programs and institute volunteer efforts.  Then enact a volunteer effort and see what happens.

And just in case any of you PARK MANAGERS encounter any bureaucratic stumbling blocks from other government agencies, please inform us so that we can take citizen complaint and/or legal action and publicly identify those impeding agencies and personnel to remove the bureaucracy and achieve worthy public goals.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Camping Safety, KLPW - Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - Occoneechee State Park, KLPW - Similar Circumstances/Situations at other Locations, KLPW- Staunton River State Park

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Kerr Lake Park Watch was notified this afternoon by Michael Womack, the Operations Project Manager for Kerr Lake, that all camping facilities and day-use areas operated by the U S Army Corps of Engineers are back open according to their regular schedules.

All of the parks operated by the Corps were closed by last Thursday in the partial government shutdown.

The Corps of Engineers has responsibilities for North Bend, Rudd’s Creek, Longwood and Buffalo Creek campgrounds along with several day-use areas and boat ramps.

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

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“When it comes to government kicking at the people and to the people, add one more insult to injury; that’s right the feds are going to close Kerr Lake parks right here as leaf season comes into play,” says Kerr Lake Park Watch PA Lead Frank Timberlake.  Kerr Lake facilities owned and operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers will be closed beginning on Thursday.  Timberlake added, “That means if you are planning to picnic, jog, fish or camp from the shores inside a USACE operated facility you will have to do it somewhere else.  We are as amazed as you might be that while Washington dances and drinks on as if nothing has happened you will not camp nor eat nor drink in a park that you own.”

In a prepared news release, the Corps said, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE),
Wilmington District, is preparing for the closure of its Corps-managed campgrounds
and day-use parks beginning Thursday, October 10, unless fiscal 2014 funding
legislation is enacted by Congress. This will have no effect on leased
recreation areas operated by state or local entities.”

KLPW checked with Bryce Fleming, Superintendent of the seven NC State Recreation Areas around Kerr Lake and also with Virginia District 5 Visitors Services Specialist Pat Eastwood and found that the regular seasonally operated parks NC parks and the Virginia state parks on Kerr Lake will continue to operate under normal schedules.

There is a recent post on KLPW that shows the schedules for the NC State Recreation Areas.  You can either scroll down or paste this link in your browser:  http://kerrlakeparkwatch.org/2013/09/25/nc-kerr-lake-parks-announce-seasonal-closing–cutback-schedule.aspx

Staunton River & Occoneechee State Parks on the Virginia side of Kerr Lake will close seasonally to campers on December 1.  Other facilities at the park will continue to operate on the regular year round schedule.

Parks, some ramps and day-use areas operated by the Army Corps of Engineers are to be closed until some funding resolution is reached by Congress.  Parks affected are at John H. Kerr Reservoir, Philpott Lake, B. Everett Jordan Dam and Lake, Falls Lake, W. Kerr
Scott Dam and Reservoir and Cape Fear Locks and Dams.  They will close by 8 p.m. on
Thursday and all campers must vacate the campgrounds by noon on Friday, Oct. 11.
  Campers with reservations in the future may
elect to leave their campsite reservations open for possible use after the
shutdown is lifted. Campers will receive a refund for any unused portion of
their reservations.  
Visitors are
encouraged to contact their local park office for information on other nearby
facilities that may be available for recreational use.

Primary impacts of the Corps actions will be the closing of North Bend Park, Rudds Creek, Longwood Park, Buffalo Creek Park, Palmer’s Point Day Use Area and Island Creek Day Use Area as well as more boat ramp areas.

If the government goes back to work you can see current
information on the closure and reopening of Wilmington District recreational
area facilities will be posted at
www.usace.saw.army.mil District’s facebook
site at
www.facebook.com/usace.wilmington as well as this site.

Posted in: KLPW - Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - Occoneechee State Park, KLPW - Reservation Information, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW- Staunton River State Park

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Although the weekend looks wet, the Kerr Lake level is going down. The guide curve was modified several years ago to keep young virgin Cyprus trees in Eastern North Carolina from drowning every year.

The water release downstream has been and is impressive in the last week. Who knows?

If you are boating be sure to remember that going near shore can be dangerous, especially near parks and public areas as fireplaces, picnic tables and many other items are under water.

Posted in: KLPW - Boating and Related Improvements, KLPW - Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED, KLPW - Water Safety

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