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CAMPSITE GRAVEL REPLENISHMENT PROGRAM DELAYED BY HIGH WATER IS NOW UNDER WAY AT NC KERR LAKE STATE RECREATION AREAS

The water went up the first of May to 313 ft and down, then to 311 ft and down, then to 307.5 ft in June (above sea level, normal is 300 ft) and now it’s back close to normal. NC Parks maintenance crews at Kerr have pulled the electric boxes on campsites, put them back, pulled them again and so on…three times this Spring.

NC Maintenance Head Chris Curl, describing how pushed he, his crew and others have been, simply said, “Rolling.” Office staff at Kerr spent their time and overtime answering calls from campers wanting to know if they could come to their campsite or was it flooded; park staff also called out. Reserve America, which takes $3 a night for reservations failed miserably to call campers during the three episodes, but they kept the money (another story, another time). Campers calling Reserve America often were told that RA didn’t know the status of the flooding..

Kerr Lake Park Watch last August gave NC State Park officials from Raleigh a tour of all seven parks and Steele Creek Marina. That effort, having the brass see all the nooks and crannies, is helping. Firewood boxes and recycling bins are showing up and so is both campsite driveway gravel and fine gravel for picnic/tent pads.

Frank Timberlake, Lead Public Affairs for Kerr Lake Park Watch, got the see crews firsthand spreading the welcome refurbishment to some popular sites. Pictured below is maintenance crew member Gary Quinitchette bringing gravel on the backhoe, west side maintenance lead John Abbott, Jr. spreading gravel with the Bobcat and a little fine-tuning raking from new ranger Kyle Whitson.

 

“No other state parks crews, maybe some of the mountains come close, but no other group has to contend with the high water, the low water, up and down, pull electric boxes, put them back, the wind and the wrath of Kerr Lake, plus all the regular maintenance and operational duties,” said Timberlake. “I’ll put these guys and gals up against any other team in the state! Sure, we have wants, needs and problems at the seven recreation areas, but these maintenance and ops people do a heck of job with what they’re given! I thank them every chance I get and you should do so, “concluded Timberlake.

Timberlake and the rest of the Kerr Lake Park Watch leadership are eagerly awaiting from Raleigh the results of the recent needs and improvements survey. They plan to form a definitive improvements list after seeing survey results.

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

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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 PARK WATCH LEADS EFFORTS TO GET PUBLIC INPUT INTO IMPROVEMENT PROCESS

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

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

wizs-listen-live

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

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