KLPW – Occoneechee State Park

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FIRST OF ITS KIND SPLASH PARK IS COMING TO KERR LAKE – Virginia Governor Announces Park Improvement at Occoneechee Ground-Breaking

The 64-year old John H. Kerr Reservoir has seen a lot of changes and improvements during its lifetime.  A lot of those changes have been positive and directly made for the public’s use and enjoyment; among them campgrounds, boat ramps, picnic areas, hiking trails, playgrounds, restrooms and more.

At a ground-breaking ceremony earlier this week at Occoneechee State Park in Clarksville, Virginia a new, attraction-type of venue was unveiled, that is a “splash park” to be built within the park.  A splash park is described as a recreation area for water play that has little or no standing water. This is said to eliminate the need for lifeguards or other supervision, as there is minor risk of drowning.  Designers and project managers for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Richmond design firm are calling Occoneechee’s new wet spot a “splashground.”

About 35 people attended the “by invitation only” event earlier this week at Occoneechee with most of those being public officials from DCR , the US Army Corps of Engineers (which has approved the project), Occoneechee and area park staff and a handful of local officials.

The main attraction was the combining of the ground-breaking and an official visit to Occoneechee by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who upon election, promised to visit every state park in the Commonwealth.  Occoneechee State Park was park to visit and the Governor made his promise become truth.  Twice the same day the governor visited the other Kerr Lake Virginia State Park, Staunton River.  While at Occoneechee, the affable McAuliffe commented to Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake that Occoneechee is a “gem” of a park with the added value of being on Kerr Lake.  He was surprised to learn that Timberlake has been visiting and/or camping at Occoneechee for over 50 years. McAuliffe asked Timberlake what has drawn him to the park and the Governor received a long, positive list.

McAuliffe was accompanied by some staff and security people, but he was also accompanied by some family members, including his niece shown below as they discussed the differences in the Kerr Lake parks from other Virginia State Parks.  She told Kerr Lake Park Watch that she particularly liked the fact that a major percentage of the water going out into the splashground will be recaptured and recycled through the system.  Kerr Lake Park Watch attempted to get more information on the reclamation system and its advantages from DCR but has received nothing by posting time.

Earlier this year commenting on the economic impact that Virginia State Parks make to the Commonwealth’s coffers, Governor McAuliffe said that the park system brought in visitor fees of $224 million in 2016.  Officials at the ceremony commented that Occoneechee State Park had revenues over $4 million last year.  The new “Splashground” will undoubtedly bring in more revenues as it will be a fee-based activity.  DCR officials anticipate that the Occoneechee splash park charge will be between $5 and $8 per person.   Park officials said that there’s a comparable sprayground at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, and the price there ranges from $5-$8, depending on the age and the day, with children under three getting free admission.  Projections on costs for the project that will take about a year to complete are between $1.5 million and $1.8 million.  The new splashground is expected to open Spring 2018.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Occoneechee State Park

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Kerr Lake’s Virginia State Parks Invite you to Walk, Run or Ride on National Trails Day

Whether you just want to quietly want to walk and observe or really move on down the trail, the Virginia State Parks around Kerr Lake have opportunities for you.  This Saturday, June 6th, is National Trails Days and you can do everything from pick your path at Occoneechee to help clean or build trails at the other parks.  Discover below how you can volunteer and or just enjoy!


Occoneechee State Park 1192 Occoneechee Park Rd., Clarksville, VA 23927 Phone: 434-374-2210   Email Address: Occoneechee@dcr.virginia.gov Web Site: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/occoneechee.shtml

Event time: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

National Trails Day is a day to remember how lucky we are to have well-maintained trails for enjoyment in our community. So come out and celebrate at Occoneechee State Park and take advantage of one of the 8 trails the park has to offer.


There are surprises at Occoneechee!

The 1.2 mile, circular Old Plantation Trail contains interpretive signs that can teach you about the various structures located on the old plantation grounds. It also encompasses the peaceful, scenic landscape of the Terrace Gardens.

Bird-lovers will enjoy the 1.1 mile long Tutelo Birding Trail which contains an elevated look-out that can be used to discover the various birds Occoneechee has to offer.

The Mossey Creek and Big Oak Nature Trails allow you to get away from everyday stress with tranquil, wooded landscapes that can help you reconnect with nature.

The 1.5 mile Mossey Creek Trail contains a small, peaceful creek and connects with the .4 mile Warrior’s Path.

If you’ve never seen a beaver dam, then hike the 1.7 mile Beaver Pond Trail to see all the hard work that beavers put into creating their homes.

There is also the 7.5 mile Panhandle Multiuse Trail, which can be used for horseback riding and biking.

No matter what kind of hike you prefer, Occoneechee has the perfect trail for you.


Staunton River State Park 1170 Staunton Trail, Scottsburg, VA 24589 Phone: 434-572-4623   Email Address: StauntonRiver@dcr.virginia.gov Web Site: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/staunton-river.shtml

Event time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Hike the River Bank Trail along the Staunton River with a ranger as you conduct trail maintenance, remove debris out of the trail, and look for ways to improve the existing trail system. Along the hike, issues such as trail construction, erosion, and trail maintenance will be discussed so that volunteers will understand why trails require a little TLC from time to time. Virginia State Parks belong to the people, so visit your local state park and help improve it for your fellow nature lovers. At the end of the hike, you will enjoy a free wagon ride back to the Staunton River area.


Staunton River Battlefield State Park 1035 Fort Hill Trail, Randolph, VA 23962 Phone: 434-454-4312   Email Address: srbattle@dcr.virginia.gov Web Site: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/staunton-river-battlefield.shtml

Event time:  10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Seeking volunteers to join park staff in helping with the initial layout and construction of the new trail surrounding Mulberry Hill Pond. Meet at Roanoke Station.

If you would like information on these or other Virginia State Parks, contact, Pat Eastwood, Visitor Services Specialist, Virginia State Parks, Southern Virginia, 434-471-0154.

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

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Virginia’s Youth Conservation Corps Program Accepting Crew Applications

(RICHMOND) – Applications are being accepted through April 15 for two three-week summer sessions of the award-winning Virginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will notify selected participants via e-mail by May 1.  The program will be held July 19 to Aug. 8.

Teams of eight to 10 participants will be chosen from current high school students between the ages of 14 and 17 (participants must be 14 by June 1). Applicants must demonstrate an interest in protecting Virginia’s environment. While no prior experience is necessary, participants will work outside, and the service is physically demanding. A positive attitude, an interest in learning, curiosity about interpreting nature, and the physical ability and desire to work outdoors are also important factors in the selection process.

YCC crew members are provided room, board, T-shirts and equipment. They receive a $500 stipend at the end of the three weeks.

VA Youth Cons Corps 1

YCC participants help with assorted park projects, including wildlife and fisheries habitat improvement, trail and campground construction and restoration, timber and shoreline improvement, and landscape beautification. The YCC is modeled after the federal service program AmeriCorps and the depression era Civilian Conservation Corps that built the original six Virginia State Parks.

For more information about the YCC program, visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/youth-conservation-corps.shtml call 804-887-8933 or e-mail vspycc@dcr.virginia.gov.

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Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Occoneechee State Park, KLPW- Staunton River State Park

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We owe an apology as one of latest posts on Facebook did not jump over on the blog.  A technology misstep.


As the new year has started off cold, note that it’s been 4 – 20 degrees lately at a very cold Kerr Lake! We’ll have an updated story on www.kerrlakeparkwatch.org about a bunch of grass carp the USACE recently put into Kerr to help with the growing hydrilla problem.

If the weather persists you may be able to get some “Carpsickles!”

Other updates coming:

• Camper wants to see volunteer program at Kerr Lake NC recreation areas. (already posted on blog)

• Update coming on the QRR and 216 water flow study by the US John H. Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

• Update coming from NC State Parks on Hibernia campsite rehab

• Virginia hikes camping and cabin rates for 2014 that affect two Kerr Lake Virginia State Parks.

Additionally, we have something for idle campers coming on the “LIGHTER SIDE.”  Check back or use the membership email box on the left so you will always get UPDATES.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Hydrilla Information, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - Occoneechee State Park, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS

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CAMPING RATES HIKED FOR VA STATE PARKS – Affects rates for Occoneechee State Park and Staunton River State Park in the Virginia State Parks system.

Added only as a FAQ sheet to an 8-page “Year in Review” report by VA State Parks Director Joe Elton, the quietly announced park rate hike has already taken effect.

“Although it is not perfectly clear in the information we have seen, it looks like camping fees for 2014 will go up about 12% and the cabin rates will only increase 5%, which seems backwards to us at Kerr Lake Park Watch,” said that organization’s spokesman, Frank Timberlake.

“It’s the first we’ve heard about rate increases. Apparently, Virginia State Parks is like most other government bureaucracies, operating in a vacuum, devoid of any public interaction. We think in this economy a 12% camping fee increase is ludicrous. We can beat on our chest and holler, but it’s already done. We use both cabins and campsites at Occoneechee and I don’t understand why the rate increase hits the RV’er and camper the hardest,” added Timberlake.

“If you ask them I would expect them to respond back with a question about if we want some parks to close. That’s what government does when citizens question. Government’s totally out of step with the working people and that’s the several hundred people around Kerr we represent.”

The leadership of KLPW is considering asking the State of Virginia, specifically DCR, to provide park discounts to senior citizens and to people out of work.  That, according to Kerr Lake Park Watch is going to take some planning and lots of communications.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Occoneechee State Park, 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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“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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Mid-August View on Occoneechee Marina Shows Lots of Empties

At the peak of summer, a lot of empty spaces, more commonly called boat slips, remain empty at the Occoneechee State Park Marina on Kerr Lake at Clarksville.  Having viewed the marina about a month ago, KLPW found that most of the boats at the docks seem to be longer term rentals as most showed up again in last week’s photos.

Summer camping, especially during the week, is usually more sparse at Occoneechee State Park.  Although waterfront from many vantage points, the park is a non-swimming park primarily due to steep and very rocky shorelines.  Because of that, many campers were excited as the marina was being developed but soon lost that excitement.

Steep rental prices, which many overnight campers find prohibitive if not offensive, may be the cause of so many vacancies in the second year operation.  The overnight rate for docking is $36, nearly $10 over the nightly camping fee for a family.  Yearly rental which ranges from $1,200 to $1,750 is more in line with other marinas on Kerr and nearby lakes.

Kerr Lake Park Watch has gone on record as opposed to the excessively high overnight rates because of its direct affect on campers. Several campers interviewed last week noted that they have boats and that they keep them on trailers or do not bring them because of what they consider exorbitant marina overnight rates.  One camper, who requested his name be withheld said “he would rather rot” than pay the marina slip fee.

The marina, in its second year of operation, was built with a price tag of around $1.5 million.

Posted in: KLPW - Boating and Related Improvements, KLPW - Occoneechee State Park

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Following of one of the biggest camping weekends in America, Kerr Lake Park Watch goes on record against changing the Virginia State Parks reservation system for booking campsites that are site specific.  Being studied right now by DCR, the change to the reservation system could impact Occoneechee State Park and Staunton River State Park on Kerr Lake.

Emailed surveys from Virginia State Parks headquarters are circulating to people who have camped in a VA state park within the last year.  Circulated by the State Parks Visitor Services Manager, Nancy Heltman, the gist of the survey is to find out if campers who use Virginia State Parks like the current system that allows a camper to make a reservation in advance by phone or online and choose an available site upon arrival.  The change being considered would let a camper book a specific site in advance.

“We are already fighting this on the North Carolina side of Kerr Lake,” said KLPW’s spokesman, Frank Timberlake.  “We showed the NC State Parks people where allowing site specific booking led to ‘weekend cherry-picking’ of the most popular sites. NC went from a 7-day minimum, assuring that vacationers came first, to a two-night site specific booking system and we showed them with a legal pad and pen the huge loss – ‘Seven minus two leaves five.’  Campers booking longer periods should arrive and get to choose their sites right then, right there, very simple.”

In her email announcement, Heltman says, “an increasing number of our camping customers are requesting the ability to select their specific campsite at the time they make their reservation.  While we are sensitive to these requests they still represent a very small minority of our campers.”  “The flexibility we have now in campground management with non-site specific reservations has made us reluctant to make this change.”  “Making a change from non-site specific reservations is a significant undertaking and one that would be difficult to undo should we take that path… ” She added that the survey comes out of response to more requests for site specific bookings.

Timberlake added, “Virginia needs to take that knowledge and know that it is a simple, effective and efficient system:  1) a camper calls or goes online, 2) the phone rep or the computer shows there is one or more available sites that will work, 3) the camper reserves and pays for a site right then, and 4) later on, the camper goes to the park, picks out the best available site and voila!  We at Kerr Lake Park Watch think they already have the answer; it’s working so leave it alone.”

The survey link is IP address sensitive and can only be used once by the recipient which prevents anyone from weighting it or voting twice.  Campers and park users can request a link to the survey from the Department of Conservation and Recreation general email address: pco@dcr.virginia.gov or nancy.heltman@dcr.virginia.gov.  The comment period ends on June 15.

### – End –

Names and contacts of public officials with Kerr Lake management responsibilities can be furnished by contacting KLPW at info@kerrlakeparkwatch.org.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Occoneechee State Park, KLPW- Staunton River State Park

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Date: September 21, 2012

“Wheels for Lungs” Car and Bike Show to Benefit Lung Transplant Research

(CLARKSVILLE, VA) – Occoneechee State Park will host “Wheels for Lungs,” a car and bike show to benefit the Lung Transplant Foundation, on Saturday, Sept. 29. In the event of rain, the show will take place Sept. 30.

On-site registration at the park will take place 8 – 11 a.m., with the event to be held from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Registration fee for show participants is $30, with all proceeds going to the Lung Transplant Foundation. The first 50 entrants will receive a commemorative dash plaque. For spectators, a parking fee of $3 applies.

Organizers expect a wide variety of classic cars, muscle cars, and customized bikes to participate in this inaugural benefit. This family friendly event will also feature a DJ, a moonwalk for kids, a food vendor with hotdogs and hamburgers, various other vendors, and some surprise guests.

Event organizer Stan Medlin explained, “After I received a double lung transplant two and a half years ago, I wanted to do something to raise more money for research.” Since he loves cars and bikes, he formulated the idea for “Wheels for Lungs.” Medlin, who has a home in Clarksville, figured that Occoneechee State Park would be the perfect site for the event. The park offers plenty of parking, as well as camping and cabins for those who want to stay overnight.

According to Medlin, rejection is a big problem for lung transplant recipients. The Lung Transplant Foundation engages in research to determine the cause of rejection and improve outcomes for recipients.

The award-winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

For more information about Virginia State Parks activities and amenities or to make reservations in one of the more than 1,800 campsites or 300 climate-controlled cabins, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-PARK or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov.

Contact: Scott Shanklin, Occoneechee State Park Manager, (434) 374-2210, scott.shanklin@dcr.virginia.gov or

– 30 –

Pat Eastwood

PR & Marketing Specialist

Virginia State Parks

1170 Staunton Trail

Scottsburg, VA 24589

Office:   434-572-2190


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

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