KLPW – Similar Circumstances/Situations at other Locations

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KERR LAKE PARK WATCH submitted this article recently to area newspapers and several  papers printed it in variations.  For you, our members and visitors, we want to provide you with the entire article as the renovated sites in this story now set the pace for recreational RV camping.  We hope you will contact NC State Parks and/or your legislator and push for more such renovations. 

Campers’ reactions to renovations soar as popularity and reservations of rehab sites goes up.

A team effort from park staffers yields the best designed and most RV camper friendly public campsites in North Carolina state parks and recreation areas, maybe even for all public camping areas. NC State Parks now gets it: define the resource user area with borders, make it close to level, putting most of the campsite surface on the same level, then make it 3 feet for RV/Trailer slides, 8 feet for camper, 8 feet for awning and the rest for a fire pit and a tent site: perfect!


Campsite in 93-99 area before rehabilitation  



Campsite in 93-99 area after rehabilitation

The camping public at Kerr Lake is buzzing about the seven (7) newly rehabilitated campsites at Hibernia State Recreation Area. Campers and Kerr Lake Park Watch agree the renovations are timely and greatly improve the camping experience. The sites were previously in rough shape and mostly very uneven with stumps, washed out sand or a lot of the rock base being the original quartz stones found naturally on the land turned campground over 50 years ago. There is a story within a story here though being the overflowing positive public reaction to the campsites and how they got sort of a miraculous makeover. The latter part of the story will come in a while.

State recreation areas, particularly those at Kerr Lake, differ from state parks for two main reasons: 1) the majority of the visitors come to interact in/with the water, and 2) with variable water levels that sometimes flood some of the campsites, additional planning and site stabilization has to go into campsite construction or renovations. Since many Kerr Lake campers avail themselves of all the space, a site can easily be full with an RV, trailer or a pop-up camper, plus a tent, picnic canopy, floats, cars and more.

Kerr Lake Park Watch asked a camper from Washington, NC about her five day camping stint on Hibernia’s campsite #98 and her comment was, “Absolutely fantastic!  It may be the best campsite we’ve ever stayed on.”

Eddy and Terry Cannady from Oxford, NC were even more emphatic and ecstatic about the new sites as the couple stood and smiled over renovated site #95. Eddy Cannady proudly states that he’s been camping at Kerr Lake for over 40 years and loving it though little has changed until now. “When Terry and I first set eyes on these newly redone campsites, I just yelled ‘Wow, this is (the difference between) night and day’ – they did it all and did it alright!” Cannady said he is most impressed that the sites are mostly level and especially fairly level from side to side, something important in pop-ups, trailers and motorhomes, adding, “The timber layout with the leveling, using real fine gravel for the tent and picnic area, all those things were good but we did not expect the steps, the handrails, the railing around part of the site, even a concrete stoop at the bottom to wipe mud off. These guys did it all and way above anything we’ve seen at this park, Kerr Lake or just about anywhere.”


Eddy Cannady, Oxford, NC talks about new Kerr Lake campsites

Like a number of campers around the Kerr Lake parks, the Cannady’s have been seen for years, cooking, riding bikes, fishing and visiting. There’s a lot of their kind at Kerr Lake. They love it. Demonstrative of that is the fact that Eddy and Terry Cannady were observed by several people earlier in the week picking up trash from a site where someone else left some debris lying around. There was Terry and Eddy picking it up. That’s not uncommon for campers, particularly long term campers who become attached to their particular parks.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Eddy Cannady speaking of the new site renovations, adding, “It looks like to me that the people in charge would realize they could take a whole lot more money in if they added more electric and water sites here at Kerr Lake and fixed some more up like these.” The Cannady’s noted that they could not get into Hibernia several weeks ago as the couple wanted to camp to celebrate their wedding anniversary. So they booked into another Kerr Lake park, Nutbush. Terry Cannady said it was a different ballgame, “The showers and bathrooms at Nutbush are awful, terrible, slick with slime, just yuk!” Eddy Cannady agreed, “It’s night and day between the new Nutbush boat ramps and the old bathrooms. They need to learn that the better the facilities the more people will come.”

That brings the other part of the story, the story of how Kerr Lake Park Watch worked with the local state parks staff to get this project done. “I have to first give credit to District Superintendent Dave Cook and to Kerr Lake Superintendent Bryce Fleming for finding the funding sources and for having the courage to renovate these seven sites ‘in house’ and for showing everyone else in public parks how to build a better campsite, said Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake who actually was called in a few times to offer input, even help measure for the renovated campsites.

“Campers are tired of washed out, undefined, unleveled and basically unimproved campsites that are not long enough or wide enough for today’s campers and RV’s. Year after year they pay their money and see little of it come back to the resource and what excites us at Kerr Lake Park Watch is that the guys and gals here at Kerr Lake showed that while they can’t fix everything, they can fix some things and better than anyone outside can do!”

Timberlake added that after seeing the contractor shambles of new sites built a few years ago at Henderson Point, campers and the leaders of Kerr Lake Park Watch were dead set against that happening again at Kerr Lake. His reference is to RV sites that are “split-level” where a camper’s awning covers nothing but the steps and rocks between the camper level and the lower picnic level. They just don’t work. Because most RV’s and trailers have expanding slides of about three feet, the regular camper width of eight feet, an awning width of eight feet, plus an area for tenting, cooking and campfires.

“An amazing thing happened at Kerr Lake that could have impetus on other state recreation areas and state parks all over North Carolina, added Timberlake. “From the district superintendent to the grass mower and all in between, mechanics put down their wrenches, rangers put down their guns, maintenance folks put down their rakes and mops and they all, hear me on this, they all worked together to build something. They cut off the head of some of that old state bureaucracy and they saved North Carolina, and thus the taxpayers, thousands of dollars on a really fine job.” Timberlake concluded, “We’ve got the before and after photos, it’s pretty plain. All who worked on this project are to be commended and let’s not forget the added benefit that came from the different parks workers getting the opportunity to develop a new appreciation for each other and what each other does for the parks, and the positive teambuilding that came out of this significant Kerr Lake camping renovation project. Kerr Lake Park Watch proudly joins the Cannady’s and many other campers and gives our state parks team an “A” for a job well done.”

An August poll of campers just this week using the new sites found only two complaints:  1) “Why didn’t the state put 50 Amp electric service in?” and 2) “Why is the water dropping so fast?”  We answered, “One step at a time, one step.”

### – End –

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With the good comes the bad.  The following is a guest testimonial/commentary by camper and KLPW member Larry Matthews.

While neither I, nor any of my camping friends and/or family were involved, I am a camper and I’d like to offer my sincere apologies to the staff at Hibernia State Recreation Area at Kerr Lake for the extra effort they had to put forth a couple of weeks ago when four teenagers trashed the Area 2 men’s bath house.

When we arrived for our 10 day stay, I thought “how nice the bath house looked.” It was clean and fresh.  Then a fellow camper allowed their four (4) teenagers to be out unsupervised after midnight one night.  While everyone was sleeping, the boys proceeded to throw toilet paper wads all over the place, stop up every toilet and to cut and/or to burn the shower curtains.  Fortunately, the camp host observed them hanging around the bath house from his trailer that night and knew exactly who had trashed the bath house when he got a knock at his door early the next morning.

The four young culprits were quickly identified by the rangers and required to suit up with those big nasty yellow gloves and help clean up their mess.  But, they could not repair the curtains. (And it’s doubtful that with no budget, the state can replace them.)  Then, they were asked to leave the campground.  Kudos to the rangers for making them pack up and leave immediately.

As a camper who loves the lake and our state parks, I was not surprised, but truly appalled at what happened. I know that this blog has had some often harsh commentaries about the parks and staff.  But, a spade should be called a spade, and fellow campers…for a parent to allow their kids out that late without supervision is unacceptable and especially that they be allowed to trash state property.  (Boys will be boys, I know, I raised 2.)

Please, keeping your kids under control is your responsibility first, before the rangers.  And most of all, let’s all take care of our parks and teach our kids to do so, too.

Again, Hibernia park staff, on behalf of the good campers, I apologize for your inconvenience caused by those kids and thank you for your efforts.  You are good hard working people who should not have to endure that kind of drama and trauma.  Thanks for all you do!


P.S. The refurbished sites in Area 2 (93-99) are the talk and the rage of the campground all week.  They are awesome!

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It’s not really polite, but let’s have a little plain toilet talk. Forget the problems of government, forget bureaucracies that move at a snail’s pace, there comes a time when human decency, that means that we as a people act more like people than animals, must come back to the forefront of the way we as people behave.

I, being Frank Timberlake, the head blogger here at Kerr Lake Park Watch, make it a point to ride the campgrounds around the lake and stop by all the facilities operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the states of Virginia and North Carolina. There is a multitude of public facilities, thank goodness, especially if you are visiting for any period of time. And now I vent.

There is a small army of dedicated, overworked and underpaid maintenance professionals who keep the water running, the lights on, the showers scrubbed and the toilets clean. Bernie and his crew in Virginia are one group and I know one young man on the NC side, Tyrone, whose entire focus and dedication is on his job and cleaning the restrooms is part of that job.

After seeing a restroom being cleaned in a Kerr Lake park today, I later stopped back and either a baboon unfamiliar with the usage of modern toilets or a Neanderthal human had messed all over the outside of the toilet. That’s right; I said the outside of the toilet. If it was an accident, then the person should have cleaned up their own mess. This simply cannot be a way of having fun at a park, can it?

I am told that such occurrences are more and more frequent. Those of you who are reading this are probably not a part of the problem, but we all need to be a part of the solution. People have to take more accountability for their actions, especially when those actions come into play at shared facilities like parks. We do not live in this world alone.

Unlike hotels with private baths, with the use of shared restroom facilities come shared responsibilities to see that our parks are maintained. To me, if you witness someone abusing park facilities, they should be reported and removed from the park, permanently or as much as allowed under the law.

It is naive, but I would hope that next time the person who defecated that Kerr Lake public restroom would in fact, find it locked and would resort to having to use the woods, whereby his buttocks were tingled by the introduction to rectal poison ivy.

Meanwhile, the next time you run into a maintenance worker cleaning a restroom or any part of the park, take a second and thank them! Their job is tougher than it should be. That’s just my two cents.


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CAMPSITES AT KERR LAKE – Right Way & Wrong Way

CAMPSITES AT KERR LAKE – Right Way & Wrong Way

1010887_687519747976981_3613544422150580687_nWhen the original campsites were put in around Kerr Lake in the 1960’s most consisted of a graded off site, sloped in relation to the ground around and fairly unlevel.  Then came the lean-to’s, the tents and a few trailers.  A good site might have some gravel spewed across it and a picnic table.  Then came 20-amp electric service and shared water but the campsites still remained “undefined” meaning it had no borders.  Campground borders keep neighboring campers friends and also do less damage to the land resource.  Be sure to read and view to the end because it does get better!

Now, with all the gadgets that campers possess, even tenters want electricity and water on a fairly level site, which around any lake that is a flood control project cannot entirely be level because of flooding; thus the site must be slightly downhill towards the water.  Travel trailers demand 30-amp service and Fifth Wheels and Motorhomes demand 50-amp service, oh, and a level “defined” campsite that’s on one level!

10170964_687519831310306_4733875143459748198_nAbout the time that Kerr Lake Park Watch was forming several years ago, a construction company under NC state contract was building, or as we say, rehabilitating or a number of RV camping sites at Henderson Point while building a tenting campground.  The irony of that is amazing.  RV’s need fairly level sites for obvious reasons, but especially so their refrigerators and air conditioner units will work properly.

Here’s a few photos of what the State of North Carolina allowed the contractor to build from a design that most likely came from a non-camper within the Raleigh office of NC State Parks.


The five (5) photos below show recently developed campsites at Henderson Point executed by a contractor to the design specification of the Division of State Parks.  To a non-camper or the untrained eye, first glance might suggest what great campsites these are.  Stop there.  Now put out your awning from your RV or trailer and discover that there may not be enough room for a straight chair on the upper or lower level; forget a lounge chair.  So the camper’s awning ends up covering mostly, you guessed it, rocks.

All the food and meal preparations have to be taken up and down the steps and a number of these sites do not have a space big enough in the defined area for a tent or a tent and picnic canopy.

Several of the sites are not “slide friendly” which means that the increasingly popular slide extensions (units with 4 and 5 slides were seen this weekend 5-10-14 in 4 of the 7 SRA’s at Kerr Lake) may run into trouble with the electric/water post or a tree.


For the next rehab project the NC Division of State Parks used its design section, but merged into the process opinions and pertinent information from campers and from Kerr Lake Park Watch.  Though the process of using rangers, maintenance people, mechanics, sanitation workers and a variety of people to rehabilitate campsites may not be the most practical and fastest way to build campsites, the process at Hibernia where two of seven renovated campsites, 98 and 99 are now open, has proven to be beneficial to two groups.

Campers will instantly see the improvements favor from small campers to mega RV’s.  The second group to benefit are those parks professionals who gained a better understanding of their coworkers and their leaders and the ability to see the right way to build a 2014 campsite.

Everything the camper does on this site is on one level.  There’s plenty of room for the slides and lots of space for the RV awning to cover.  This site offers an enlarged fire and cooking ring, far away from the camper along with the lantern holder.

Now, if you are reading this and listening NC Division of State Parks, here’s what you need to finish off sites 98 and 99 correctly.  Screenings or powdery rock on the “living area” of a campsite are OK in thinking about tenters but (1) tent dwellers of today carry air mattresses and such, and (2) RV’ers don’t want to walk screenings into their trailers or motorhomes.  A suggested finish is pea gravel.  Next, please use timbers to separate gravel RV space from the living space.  It’s not a hazard as campers expect and appreciate it. And lastly, don’t forget to notch the corners to allow flood waters of Kerr Lake to recede but to keep rock of whatever size in the improved campsite.

And lastly, we at Kerr Lake Park Watch would like to thank NC Parks & Rec Operations Manager Mike Lambert, District Supervisor Dave Cook, Kerr Lake Superintendent Bryce Fleming and all those who have and are working on the Hibernia rehab project.  It is only a start, but it’s a good start.

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The Division of State Parks in North Carolina is reaching out to you who use state parks and more importantly to the members of Kerr Lake Park Watch, those of you who use the seven (7) SRA’s or State Recreation Areas of Kerr Lake, to tell the leaders of state parks what you want out of your parks.


  This is what the state parks link looks like at:  http://ncparks.gov/Visit/main.php

You really need to take the time to respond when the parks leaders in Raleigh ask for input.  We call this “citizen time” when you fulfill your citizen obligation to tell appointed and elected governmental representatives what you expect, want and/or need from their governmental entity.

It has long been said that the parks people in North Carolina, including Kerr Lake, is a silent majority.  Here is a perfect opportunity for that majority to speak out and have input on shaping the future of parks at Kerr Lake and in North Carolina.

The exact survey link is:https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ncscorp_public.

If you have the opportunity to list any ideas for the lake’s seven recreation areas on the North Carolina side, please send them to us at Kerr Lake Park Watch.  That email is info@kerrlakeparkwatch.org.

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“We had a good and purposeful meeting today between state senators and representatives with the NC Department of Administration (DOA) on sorting out the issues to get a new lease in place for the Steele Creek Marina at Townsville,” said State Senator Chad Barefoot who let DOA and others quickly know that he was there to represent KLPW and many more constituency groups and interested citizens.
While the legislators believe that DOA and the State Property Office  are working in the best interests of the docking and boating public, they did admonish the agencies for poor and sometimes non-existent communications with constituency groups like KLPW and concerned citizens .  DOA promised better communications immediately.
Details are forthcoming on KLPW’s blog and Facebook page when a final agreement is hammered out and a new lessee is named.
Groups like KLPW, RRBA and The Vance County Tourism Authority want to see things like expanded services and automated fueling.

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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.

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At KLPW, we’ve had a number of campers to say thanks to the NC State Parks KLSRA folks for finally upgrading some sites, particularly in the electric loop of Hibernia SRA.

Some may be amazed but there are scores of campers who have asked or indicated their willingness to have “clean up” or “fix up” days with volunteers working in the seven (7) state recreation areas (SRA’s) on the North Carolina side of Kerr Lake.

Two avid supporters of Kerr Lake and avid leaders of Kerr Lake Park Watch have made some valid points about improvements on the campsites at Kerr Lake and some valid points about volunteering.  We thought we’d share the suggestions of Joel and Lisa Bailey with all of you.

Frank and Larry, we like your thoughts. As Lisa and I are lifelong Kerr Lake campers, boaters and even me now an old water skier, I really appreciate the work the staff and our volunteers do to preserve our heritage and experience.
After 40 years of camping at Hibernia, normally over 30 days a summer, we have a couple of thoughts that may be useful as well.  
    1) On the new sites could we lower the service boxes so that slide-outs could open above them? 

    2) Can we have 50 amp service on all the new sites? The overgrowth really is a nuisance to motor homes and large campers with multiple slide-outs and awnings, both on the campsites and in the roadways. 

    3) I really like and support the idea of a camper workday to help maintain our campground. We have many talented camper resources that could make a big difference. Lisa and I are involved with the NC Baptist Men and we have traveled literally all across the eastern half of the US cutting trees for disaster relief. We have the tools and the talent to help out for a spring work day.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts and for all those who love and work on our lake.”

Like so many other campers, Joel and Lisa show that if the government entities involved with all the parks around Kerr Lake will show more than rules, regs and enforcement, like caring initiative, the user public will give back with an overwhelming positive response.

And at Kerr Lake Park Watch, we see that as good for all concerned.

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  1. Are the reservation system charges the same for “parks” as they are for “recreation areas?”

  2. Did NC State Parks shoot itself in the foot money-wise when it stopped the policy of reserving a campsite for a minimum of seven nights versus having the weekends cherry-picked?

  3. “I have a question….Now that we have been using the computer based reservation system for a couple of years, and been allowed to reserve less than seven days per stay, what has been the impact? Has the number of campers increased, has the net revenue increased? I know from my personal experience that it is more difficult to make week-long reservations with this system. I also see the parks nearly empty during the week and full on the weekends. So what does NC Parks say about the change?”

  4. Why am I charged a transaction fee for every day of my camp time? Whether we camp for two nights or seven, there is only one transaction and should be only one charge per transaction?”  


1. The transaction fees are the same for parks and recreation areas. The fee is $3 per night/ campsite.

2. System-wide, the ability for campers to make reservations with a minimum of one night has worked well. There may have been a slightly lower number of nights reserved at Kerr Lake, but that is at least partially attributable to campers only having to pay for what they will actually use. The remaining vacant sites are available for use, where in the past, many sites would be reserved but unoccupied during a portion of the renters’ rental period, which prevented other campers from using them.

3. Kerr Lake camping nights did drop a little since the last year prior to having the reservation system (July 1, 2008-June30, 2009) but last year it was only about 3% lower than 2008-2009. System-wide reservations in NC State Parks have increased each year since the reservation system was implemented and trends indicate they will continue to increase. The use numbers are subject to fluctuate from year to year. A number of factors influence fluctuation such as weather, fuel prices and the economy.

As an observation, we have noticed fewer occurrences of campers having unused nights that they paid for now compared to when we had seven night minimum.

I see two things that could make getting 7 day reservations harder now than prior to the implementation of the reservation system. 1. Many visitors are gravitating toward shorter, weekend reservations because that is what they want and need. 2. Visitors can make their reservations as far as 11 months in advance with the reservation system, so they often have to make reservations farther in advance than they used to in order to get the site # and days they want. We used to not accept any reservations prior to the beginning of January.

4. The cost of the reservation system is funded fully with the reservation transaction fees which are $3 per facility per day. This enables N.C. State Parks to have a system that is paid for by the users and not by general taxpayers.

The present system is fair for all users. It is standard across the state, which makes it simpler for users who want to make reservations in a variety of state parks and recreation areas across North Carolina. The system also helps the Division of Parks and Recreation view and understand trends in park use.

I am happy to talk to our visitors about this if they would like to do so. I am generally available at the park office (252)438-7791.

Bryce Fleming

Park Superintendent

Kerr Lake State Recreation Area

6254 Satterwhite Point Road

Henderson, NC 27537

(252) 438-7791


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It’s like that at Harris Lake, too. That’s why we stopped going there. It gets hung up in your fishing line, your boat prop, etc. And it’s a nightmare for water skiers. It can transport itself from one lake to another, via boat trailers. When we backed our boat up, it would wrap itself around the boat trailer, so we had to make sure we cleaned the trailer afterward, as not to infect, another lake. I wish people would treat their boats, trucks, and trailers, like they do at the ocean. When we take our equipment to the beach (boat/trailer/truck) we always wash the sea salt off after we return home. I wish people would be just as diligent with lake water contaminants. – C Kondakor

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