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4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION FOR KERR LAKE COMING AT THE END OF JUNE

Enjoy live entertainment by “Frankie Faucet & The Drips”, dancing and a big fireworks display over the water at dark. Food vendors on site. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and watch the fireworks under the stars. Come early, stay late and enjoy a day at the lake.

Getting into the parks offer FREE event admission but there is a $7.00 per car gate/parking fee charged by the NC State Parks. No alcohol allowed.

Sponsored by Vance County Tourism Department.  www.kerrlake-nc.com

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - Park Entertainment/Events, Uncategorized

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ARE THE DAYS OF THE KERR LAKE PARK RANGER NUMBERED OR SHOULD THEY BE?

What or Who Is A Ranger?

By general definition a park ranger is a person entrusted with protecting and preserving parklands – national, state, provincial, or local parks. “Parks” may be broadly defined by some systems in this context, and include protected culturally or historically important built environments, and is not limited to the natural environment. After looking into park rangers at the USACE parks, the Virginia State Parks and the NC State Recreation Areas, all on Kerr Lake our investigation ended up focused more on the latter.  But first, definitions.

Popular or general duties for a park ranger include but are not necessarily limited to, (1) preservation and protecting of their particularly defined resource, including the environment, the public and in most cases the wildlife; (2) interpretation and education; (3) historical significance (4) emergency response; (5) law enforcement; (6) outdoor scholar; (7) administration; (8) maintenance; (8) tourism and visitor information services and we can add many more items, but maybe one that doesn’t get included as much as it should, youth role model.

            

 

At Kerr Lake, the park rangers for the U S Army Corps of Engineers parks still adhere closely to the aforementioned broad range of duties, with only a few designated as full law enforcement officers.  The rangers, including the Chief Ranger wear Federal badges and can issue citations.  That may sound mild, but be assured those citations land accused violators in Federal court because those parks are on Federal land.  Those arrested on the say so of Corps rangers are hauled before a magistrate or to jail by a full law enforcement officer.

In Virginia, the two parks on Kerr Lake have law enforcement officers and there is no “split” in Virginia having parks versus recreation areas; they are all parks.  Some current and former Virginia State Parks employees believe that the tilt of the park ranger job is going too far towards law enforcement and leaving behind the resource, the park’s other employees and the visiting public, or the full scope of ranger duties.  One former employee told about going to a several-hour murder investigation seminar, and though recognizing that the teacher was indeed well qualified, the employee asked how Virginia park rangers could be expected to launch their own investigation into a murder on just that training and said given a murder in their park, the employee would call seasoned and experienced investigators from other agencies.

 

Park versus Recreation Area

Let’s then bring park ranger to the North Carolina State Parks and to the Division of State Parks which administers parks, under the recent department move from NC DENR to the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.  Then comes the “split” between NC State Parks and NC State Recreation Areas like Kerr Lake, Falls Lake and Jordan Lake.

The term “split” is used because, while there are some seasonal parks that visitors bombard with heavy visitation like Ft. Macon, Mount Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain and Chimney Rock, most parks have much lighter visitation than the recreation areas which offer waterfront day-use areas and campsites.  Also, most of those visiting the high attendance parks are going for day-use purposes anyway, as opposed to Kerr Lake and the other Recreation Areas where day-use may be heavy, but overnight camping can run into the 1000’s.  The rangers in those NC State Parks of lighter visitation have a wider range of duties, naturally because they are in a park environment and not that of a recreation area; huge, huge difference.

Times Have Changed and Maybe They Need To Back Up a Bit

Back in the 1980’s, admittedly, it was sometimes difficult to get timely law enforcement response to Kerr Lake and maybe even some other state parks and recreation areas.  Remoteness played a part there, an issue that doesn’t exist as much due to improved communications, mutual aid and cooperation.  It was also seen as a method to get more rangers and to be able to pay them a law enforcement supplement.  The idea was that if they were park rangers and law enforcement officers that they would stay longer.  We dare say, Kerr Lake turns over park rangers to a higher number and probably percentage than any other parks in the system.  It just seems that a ranger will not stay for long at the Kerr Lake recreation areas.

By bureaucratic nature the Office of State Personnel and the Division of State Parks started pushing rules and definitions of job functions more towards rangers being policemen than park rangers.  A current reclassification by the Department of Human Resources (over the Office of State Personnel) has state employees all over North Carolina questioning whether they have been promoted or demoted, and that leaders and legislators is another whole can of worms we will leave closed at this point.

Identifying the Ranger Problem at Kerr Lake

In the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s and most of the 1990’s park rangers at Kerr Lake realized several axioms: (1) people come to Kerr Lake because of the water, (2) all kinds of people come for weekends, and (3) families come to Kerr Lake for weekends and many come for their vacations.  The park rangers of those decades and, as we said before, some into the 2000’s and only a few full park rangers currently, recognized or knew many of the high number of returning visitors and campers.  Those rangers realized that they were viewed almost as innkeepers or to some as vacation resort managers.  Esteemed Kerr Lake Recreation Area Chief Ranger Nathan Burwell told superiors he didn’t need a gun because he could enforce through respect, and if that did not work, he knew their families and he could get a problem fixed.  What a testament to being a park ranger Burwell’s life and career was!

Since the 1980’s when law enforcement was added to park ranger duties, most of the rangers at Kerr Lake adapted to becoming law enforcement officers, but the key is that well into the 2000’s those rangers kept their focus on the parks for which they were responsible and law enforcement was added to their mix of duties.

One might say there has been a slow transmutation in ranger habits, performance, duties and job functions that has left the public scratching its head, while frustrating other park employees who feel that rangers are set apart and above because of their law enforcement designation.  It used to be at Kerr Lake that everyone worked as a team, helping one another.

Whether it is due to park system administration or another complex, confusing set of rules from the Office of State Personnel, what has transpired is that while working in the same park, Kerr Lake State Recreation Areas specifically, the day to day job situation exist that one person in one job classification can not even suggest how a person of lower, equal or higher seniority might do their job better, or that they need to go and do for a particular task.

Kerr Lake Park Watch members and or leaders have spent almost a cumulative 30 days in the Kerr Lake Recreation Areas this Spring.  A number of tearful situations have been observed which demonstrate the practicing theory, “That’s Not My Job.”

The most tearful was to see in one of the parks that the friendly neighborhood racoons had visited a trash can, and after snacking they managed to scatter half a dozen pieces of trash.   Keep in mind that although in the NC State Recreation Areas at Kerr Lake, that the trucks are all white, all with state park decals and a few with state ranger decals.  Sometimes the public sees them as all the same.

With that trash on the ground, two trucks passed that were decaled only.  Two other trucks passed marked with decals and state ranger rolled by at a fast speed.  When the fifth truck rolled up, the driver who was picking up the trash was asked about the others and that person stated that according to state rules he could not tell any of those parties to pick up the trash.  That is a sad state.

Kerr Lake Park Watch visited several of the recreation areas and asked 20 random visitors if they had seen and/or spoken to a ranger, given that their time spent in the parks also varied; most however, were camping.  Of the 20 Kerr Lake visitors, only one had seen a ranger, who was flagged down to ask about the lake level, which has been a problem during the 30-day investigative period.

One of the most common complaints from the visiting public is, “We don’t see the rangers like we used to.”

Here’s some other of the most poignant comments that the people we interviewed offered:

  • Who told rangers at Kerr Lake that their only function is to ride through the parks?
  • Why do they have to spend several hours a day at the Satterwhite Point office?
  • They are never in this park.
  • We think rangers are out of the parks entirely too much.
  • The only thing the rangers are taught to focus on now is the shiny rim of a beer can.
  • Don’t they know that a left-arm sunburn is dangerous.
  • The only time we see rangers is them with their trucks facing each other and them talking.
  • Who’s the ranger this month?
  • The rangers ride through here so fast that if a bear was assaulting a coyote at a campsite, they wouldn’t see it.

Kerr Lake Park Watch and the public thinks that in most of the NC State Recreation Areas, most, not all because there are still a few real park rangers, that the relationships between staff and visitor that used to be stellar, is at an all time low.

To a large degree law enforcement being added to park rangers has dulled the relationship that has been traditional for generations to where whole families knew rangers who would visit and often come and eat at the visitors’ campsite or enjoy watermelon or homemade ice cream.  The law enforcement mentality has ended all of that to the dismay of older adults and to the depravity of the youth, who certainly could use more of those good role models in their lives.

Suggestions for Solutions on Kerr Lake State Recreation Area Rangers & Relationships

We at Kerr Lake Park Watch, ask that the Division of State Parks and Recreation act to change and improve this situation.  We are also asking the appropriate committees of the North Carolina General Assembly to investigate this and to provide the Division of State Parks any legislative assistance needed to correct and improve this segregated type of park service at Kerr Lake.  Continued on this page are some more specific suggestions for implementing positive changes.

  • Under the first definition of a park ranger, a person who will protect, promote and work in all facets of park service, Kerr Lake has only a very few left who are “old school” whereas the rest are focused on law enforcement.

These old school rangers, even from other parks, need to be given duties to teach rangers who need to understand that being a ranger is not just riding a truck, toting a gun, writing tickets                  and working on a court calendar.  That’s stuff for cops!

  • Another answer is to not spend too much on programs and interpretative rangers at the Kerr Lake Recreation Areas because, as most bureaucratic types and government officials who do not understand the recreation area versus park dilemma, the greatest majority of people go to Kerr Lake because they want to be near, in or on the water.

 

  • Ask someone with a family, and they will tell you they’d like their rangers to be in their respective parks at Kerr Lake. So, a solution for that is to find out why rangers spend several hours a day, most every day at the Satterwhite Point office.  Solve just that one problem with some policy changes and that family and all others will feel safer.

 

  • Regarding the many comments that rangers at Kerr Lake think that their only function is to ride through the parks, policy changes should be affected that maybe the rangers post changes in site reservations, parking their trucks in a particular loop or section and walking around thus given the opportunity to speak to and to get to know campers.

 

  • Against many objections including ours, eight entrance booths were built at the seven Kerr Lake State Recreation Areas at a cost of approximately $250,000 each, yes, that’s a quarter of a million dollars.  Those buildings sit unoccupied and unmanned most of the time.  The entrance booths or entry stations are where the offices for park rangers need to be established.  Each entry station has a phone, computer, office furniture, restrooms, and heat or cooling and are situated so that no one can enter or leave the park without being observed. Utilization of these entry stations would keep rangers in their respective parks.

 

  • That assumes that Kerr Lake State Recreation Areas need to keep rangers at all. Kerr Lake Park Watch members observed, in that same cumulative 30-day period, a deputy patrolling at least every other day, and even an occasional highway patrolman.  The Division of State Parks needs to take a bold, a specific look at law enforcement at Kerr Lake versus the parks, and if need be, do a separate policy break from other parks.  Precedent is already established as some rules now apply differently to state parks and state recreation areas.

Or maybe the question should be asked, with focuses only on law enforcement, should we have rangers at the State Recreation Areas?

 

  • While we are providing possible personnel solutions specifically for the Kerr Lake State Recreation Areas that will better serve the public, here is another somewhat related issue to park rangers, but more specifically targeting maintenance people. Because of the way that the administration of the Division of State Parks has been changed by the addition of law enforcement, good, well-trained and extraordinarily knowledgeable park employees outside the ranger job classification and specifically in maintenance cannot climb the personnel ladder and are prohibited from promotion to a position such as a superintendent of a park, a regional superintendent or higher promotion.  At Kerr Lake Park Watch, we feel this is blatant discrimination and may violate the civil liberties and/or the civil rights of these employees.  We ask that either the Division of State Parks amend, change or abolish this current policy and if not, we ask members of the General Assembly to do so, as this discrimination will be challenged at some point, and wisely so.

All eggs are not scrambled or boiled or fried.  The mandate comes from the customer and the cook prepares them from that mandate.  The NC Division of State Parks needs to back up and take a fresh look at the State Recreation Areas, specifically Kerr Lake’s seven parks and break out.

As always, we at Kerr Lake Park Watch extend our hands and our support if we can work together to make some or all these solutions come about.  We suggest that the administration leave Raleigh and get out to talk with the park-using public and employees.

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

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HIGH WATER AT KERR LAKE PROMISES TO FOUL SOME MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND CAMPING & OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

The waters of Kerr Lake are still rising here on Monday night, just four nights away from one of the biggest camping, picnicking, boating and grilled foods weekends of the year, the extended Memorial Day Weekend.

With rains pouring in again this evening, there’s a good chance that the level of Kerr Lake will rise above the 308.5-foot level, and depending on how much rain, the lake could go higher.

Affecting the North Carolina side with the seven NC State Recreation areas which are lower in elevation, the waters of Kerr Lake rose over two feet last night hitting 307.5 ft (above mean sea level) today around noon.  Several campers have been moved to other sites on the NC side because the electrical boxes must be pulled and according to NC State Parks, Bullocksville and Henderson Point parks were completely shut down today.

Campers on this loop may have no where to camp this holiday weekend.

Contacted by Kerr Lake Park Watch, the US Army Corps of Engineers said today that the much sought after QRR Plan (Quasi-Run-of-River), which allows for larger releases of water from Kerr and the lower lakes.  The Corps had been releasing 15,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) but has upped that to 25,000 and for the rest of this week, 35,000 CFS.

Inflows were slowing until most of the Kerr watershed received another dumping of rain this evening.

This is part of the hourly Kerr Lake measurements of water levels by the USACE:  1st column – date; 2nd column – time (24hr); 3rd column – inflows to Kerr in CFS; 4th column – outflow from Kerr in CFS; 5th column – Kerr Lake level at that hour

Commenting on the large and heavy inflows to Kerr Lake, Ashley Hatchell, Water Resources Management with the Corps said, “The last week has produced a tremendous amount of rain (see graphic below – view in html), pushing river flows above flood stage and resulting in inflows into Kerr over 80,000 CFS for most of Saturday and Sunday. Dan and Roanoke River flows, and thus inflows into Kerr, have peaked, but there is still plenty of water being stored in the lake.”

Hatchell added, “Anticipate a peak elevation nr 308.5 ft tonight/Tuesday.  We are increasing this week’s declaration to initiate 25,000 CFS releases tomorrow, followed by 35,000 CFS releases beginning Wednesday through middle of next week.  Even with this increase, we will possibly be near 305.5 – 306 feet (above mean sea level) next Friday, based on forecast inflows.

For any of the parks with low-lying camp sites, picnic areas, swimming areas and boat ramps, that could mean canceling plans.  Several public roads outside the parks are also affected and will continue to be affected this weekend.

In Hibernia Park, for instance, all 148 campsites in Areas 1, 2 and 3 are booked this weekend.  Those in Area 3 which is a much lower elevation, mostly like will not open back for the holiday weekend.

The drop from what ever level Kerr Lake reaches by Friday will still leave some campsites under water or without power.

If you do not know your camping spot you’re going to on Kerr or you know your camping spot is normally very close to the water, you should call the agency which oversees the particular park you’re going to visit.  That could be the US Army Corps of Engineers, NC State Parks or possibly Virginia State Parks, although those parks are not as susceptible to flooding.

If you are coming to Kerr Lake, particularly to boat, some of the closed boat ramps may open by the Memorial Day weekend, but you should remember two important things:

  1. DANGER – the water is much higher than normal and driving a watercraft close to shore is dangerous if you are unfamiliar with your location on the lake.
  2. DANGER – because of high waters, there are a lot of floating debris on the lake, including but not limited to logs, trees and trash.

Take time to find out the status of the location for your Kerr Lake activities and then enjoy and be safe.

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

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RAINS RAISE WATER LEVEL IN GUAGES, KERR LAKE’S LEVEL & QUESTIONS ABOUT LAKE VISITOR’S PLANS

“I remember the first time an out-of-state visitor asked me about high and low tides at Kerr Lake. I laughed until I cried.” Comment from Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake, who offers this information about the tide going up this weekend at Kerr Lake.
 
“We’ve had an update from the US Army Corps of Engineers that due to recent rains, many very heavy in the Roanoke River Basin, the lake levels are going up,” said Timberlake. There’s no need for serious concern or cancellations at this point, but they’re (USACE) expecting Kerr Lake to hit 306 feet above mean sea level by sometime Monday, if the rains continue.”
 
Ashley Hatchell, Water Resources Manager with the US Army Corps of Engineers said, “Heavy rain is in the basin and more is forecast for today and tomorrow. Rivers are responding and inflows are starting to increase into the lakes. The following shows the 7-day total rainfall on the basin. Totals are near 2-4 inches basin-wide, with higher amounts in various locations.”
Hatchell added that lake goers should expect a peak near 306 ft Monday if rainfall forecast materializes. The Corps will begin 15,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) releases Monday (increased from 9,000 cfs as were requested in the original declaration), to address the rain that has already fallen. Further increases may be needed in releases next week to manage lake levels. The Corps will revise the declaration on Monday to adjust if necessary.
 
As of 5:00 PM today, Kerr Lake’s level had risen to 301.58. Forecasts change and changes in releases constantly change the lake level. People with plans at the public facilities along the shore of Kerr Lake this weekend and next Memorial Day weekend should check the lake level from time to time.

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

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KERR LAKE LEVEL RECEDES FROM 307.5 DOWN TO UNDER 305 FEET – HEADING BACK TO NORMAL

The water is coming down at Kerr Lake! As of the last hour, the lake is at 304.76 feet above mean sea level. The normal full pool level is 300 feet.

There are still some boat ramps, campsites, public areas and local roads affected, so if you are in doubt, call your local public agency in charge of the public area you plan to visit, being either the US Army Corps of Engineers, North Carolina State Parks or Virginia State Parks.

Recent rain from Hurricane Matthew brought Kerr up to 307.5 ft. (7.5 ft. into the flood pool). Inflows into Kerr are averaging 35,000 cfs from the storm over the last 7 days (peak hourly inflow close to 90,000 cfs). So there were inflows into Kerr that would support the maximum flood release of 35,000 cfs allowed under our revised flood operations (QRR) or Quasi-Run-of-River.  However, in consideration of the recent rain and flooding along the lower Roanoke (2 significant events in 2 1/2 weeks), The Corps did not raise declared releases from Kerr during the past two weeks, but has now made significant release increases to bring the lake level back close to the normal or guide curve.

“We supported the Corps using Kerr Lake for one of its main intents, that of flood control,” said Public Affairs Lead for Kerr Lake Park Watch, Frank Timberlake, adding, “Those people downstream in North Carolina did not need more water until their flood waters subsided to a good degree.  We think the Corps used best management practices to their best on this pretty horrific weather event.”

Timberlake added, “We at Kerr Lake Park Watch want to remind people, especially boaters that with high water often there comes what we call floaters in the water, trees and debris.  All lake visitors returning to Kerr should have a watchful eye on the water for such.”

Kerr Lake is expected to be fully recovered by this coming weekend.

 

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - WATER RELATED, KLPW - Water Safety

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KERR LAKE SURE LOOKS NICE RIGHT BEFORE THE BIG WEEKEND – USE CAUTION OUT THERE

Kerr Lake Park Watch received this Nutbush area photo taken earlier today by Kerr Lake Park Watch member Kathy B.  The morning clouds eventually moved over for some last of the summer sunshine.

0829160714_HDR (2) nutbush 8-31-16 kathy biset

Be safe, especially this coming Labor Day weekend when a lot more boaters will be out; and so will law enforcement.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and its partners conclude their “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign this Labor Day weekend. Starting Friday, drivers and boat operators across North Carolina may encounter sobriety checkpoints or increased enforcement patrols to help deter impaired operation of vehicles and vessels.

The annual multi-agency initiative works to ensure everyone can travel safely on the road and on the water during summer holidays. In North Carolina, a driver or boat operator with a blood-alcohol concentration that meets or exceeds .08 is subject to arrest.

“We want to remind everyone to be careful while they enjoy the holiday weekend,” said Lt. Sam Craft with the Wildlife Commission. “Impaired driving has dangerous consequences for motorists and boaters alike. No one wants to end their summer with an arrest or an accident.”

The “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign is coordinated by the Wildlife Commission, State Highway Patrol and Forensic Tests for Alcohol, and supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard and local police and sheriff’s offices, along with participating non-governmental organizations, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Especially if you’re visiting the North Carolina recreational area, or the Virginia side too, take time to stop and thank a ranger or park worker.  It’s the 100th anniversary of NC State Parks and never a better time to be thankful then when using the resources.

State_Park_logo

Happy Labor Day from Kerr Lake Park Watch!

 

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - Water Safety

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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.

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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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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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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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