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Archive for May, 2013

KLPW SAYS CORPS NEEDS TO PUT ON BIG BOY BOOTS FOR HYDRILLA


POSITION STATEMENT by KERR LAKE PARK WATCH


ON THE SUBJECT OF THE CONTINUING SPREAD OF HYDRILLA, A NOXIOUS AQUATIC WEED


FOR THE PUBLIC COMMENT AND RECORD OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT AS REQUESTED BY


THE U. S. ARMY CORP OF ENGINEERS


Prepared by Frank Timberlake, Lead, Public Affairs, Kerr Lake Park Watch




May 31, 2013


 


ATTN:  Mr. Robert Dennis


U. S. Army Corps of Engineers


1930 Mays Chapel Road


Boydton, Virginia  23917


 


Kerr Lake Park Watch is comprised primarily of 175+ members who camp, swim, picnic, boat, ski and fish at parks operated on Kerr Lake either by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia State Parks or North Carolina State Parks.   Less than three years old, Kerr Lake Park Watch has been successful in several singular parks improvements and joined with numerous organizations to squelch Virginia Uranium mining that could have potential threats to Kerr Lake.  120 members of KLPW keep up with issues on Facebook with many keeping abreast using social media and the organization’s active blog.


 


Not one member has had anything positive to say about Hydrilla.  More importantly, we are unified on one simple point.  The lake belongs outright to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, period.  The Corps has been very slow in acknowledging Hydrilla’s existence.  Only after public inquiry and complaints did the Corps set itself up as the approval center for private citizens to obtain names of certified herbicidal application companies or weed sprayers.  That posture was wrong from the beginning.


 


It is a failed response.  The proof is on the other side of the Kerr dam, Lake Gaston.  Wrongly, the Corps has folded its arms and stated it doesn’t have funding.  Imperative and impactful research on a real containment solution, the use of microbials, was halted at the Corps’ Water Resource Center in Vicksburg, MS.


 


The Corps needs to put Hydrilla and its control, if not containment, on a priority list and work with federal legislators to get funding, but first the Corps of Engineers must take responsibility and say, “it is our problem.”  The Corps will find that many state agencies may want to help, but they all know it is not their place to lead.  Anything less than a full assault on Hydrilla by the Corps, leaves the lake’s landowners and the lessees of the public lands at the mercy of the “approved” sprayers.


 


When the boat ramp areas shut down because no one can get a boat in or out of the lake, when the kids and their families quit coming to the lake because they can’t swim, when the news media starts carrying a Hydrilla-related drowning death toll, when all that starts happening, it will be too late to lament the huge loss of life, the loss of revenue from tourism and the close of countless businesses in two states that depend on that lake for their livelihood.


 


U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, it’s time to step up and put on your big-boy boots, or you can take the typical federal government posture and run like hell!


 

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KERR LAKE PARK WATCH SUGGESTS VIRGINIA STATE PARKS KEEP CAMPING RESERVATIONS SYSTEM AS IS


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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KLPW PUTTING FINISHING TOUCHES ON HYDRILLA RESPONSE TO CORPS

We are reviewing comments here on the blog, on Facebook and from emails to put the finishing touches on our position on HYDRILLA for the Environmental Assessment and its permanent record for the US Army Corps of Engineers. Public comment can be made through Friday, May 31, 2013.

You can respond below in the comments section or email us at info@kerrlakeparkwatch.org
WE WANT YOUR INPUT & FEEDBACK:

_____YES  _____NO – The US Army Corps of Engineers is 100% responsible for managing hydrilla

_____YES  _____NO – There should be a cooperative effort of federal, state and local governments managing hydrilla in Kerr Lake

_____YES  _____NO – Hydrilla should be managed or controlled by whoever owns or leases the shoreline

_____YES  _____NO – I could care less about hydrilla.  Move on to the next issue.

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10 DAY WARNING – TO MAKE COMMENT ON HYDRILLA TO US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS

It’s very simple.  You have ten days to make your voice heard on the issue of Hydrilla in Kerr Lake in response to the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Environmental Assessment.  If you do not respond, things are likely to stay the same which means the continued spread of Hydrilla in Kerr Lake.

The position of Kerr Lake Park Watch is simple.  The lake belongs outright to the US Army Corps of Engineers, period.  The Corps has been slow to acknowledge hydrilla’s existence and then set itself up as the approval center for spray control activities by private entities.  KLPW sees this posture as unacceptable.

Whatever your particular beliefs or position, understand that this is the federal government and without public input, nothing will happen, nothing will change except continued Band-Aid treatments.

You can read the EA in its entirety at:


http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Locations/DistrictLakesandDams/JohnHKerr/NaturalResources/AquaticVegetationManagement.aspx


Written comments regarding this Environmental Assessment should be sent to the address
or e-mail below. Questions may be directed to Mr. Robert Dennis at 434-738-6101 extension
160 or e-mail below.
Mr. Robert Dennis
US Army Corps of Engineers Or e-mail to
JHKERR@usace.army.mil
1930 Mays Chapel Road
Boydton, Virginia 23917

or find this info on page 43 of the USACE Environmental Assessment

Posted in: KLPW - Hydrilla Information, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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KERR LAKE WATER CONTROL HARDER TO PREDICT THAN LOTTERY

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

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

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


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

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AS MORE WATER SHOWS AT KERR, MORE CAMPSITES DISAPPEAR!

Rising water levels over the past few days have more and more Kerr Lake waterfront campsites and public areas disappearing.  Torrential rains have dumped a tremendous amount of water into the watershed.  The drought, for now, is over.

Click on the link to see the latest photos:  www.facebook.com/KerrLakeParkWatch
If you have camping reservations at Kerr Lake or picnic plans you may want to confirm them as the lake’s water level continues to rise.

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Campers More Ready Than Sites at Some NC State Recreation

Just a short time until the first “big show” at Kerr Lake State Recreation Area campgrounds; it’s called Memorial Day.  The campers will be ready, but will the parks be ready?

Taken within the last few days, these photos show a Nutbush State Recreation Area with “defined” campsites that are not so easy to define. These sites are supposed to be filled with small gravel and be open.  Kerr Lake Park Watch is visiting a number of parks around the lake and we want to share with you what we’re finding.

        

Cutbacks may have affected cutting or spraying.  One of the most popular camping loops in the NC Recreation Areas is in Hibernia’s electric loop in Area 2.  Some of those electric and water sites are virtually impossible to get any kind of trailer or RV into because they are first, undefined, which means they do not have timber boundaries and a gravel surface within. They are extremely unlevel, eroded in places, and several sites, you might say, “have campers literally stumped!”



The stump pun might be funny unless you back your RV over one or fall over a stump while rambling around your campsite at night.



Kerr Lake, the North Carolina State Recreation Areas, and in particular Hibernia, need more RV sites with defined areas big enough for motorhomes, fifth wheels and the like, somewhat leveled sites, with convenient electrical and water outlets set on the driver’s side of the site and lantern holders, picnic table and a defined use area on the passenger’s side. 

Three years ago, KLPW with some Kerr Lake Park officials mapped out in the rough some 25- 30 potential electrical and water sites in Area 1 of the park; sites that were well above the flooding areas.  Those sites remain on a marked map in who knows who’s office or file drawer, but the campers of Hibernia have not seen new electric and water sites in decades, nor have they seen upgrades like some of the other lake parks and state parks.  After the last so-called improvements at Henderson Point, we at Kerr Lake Park Watch are wary.  Just this weekend campers Bucky and Juanita stated they would never return to Henderson Point, especially to the new sites.  They complained that the new sites have too many levels, too many steps, too much rip-rap rocks.  But Juanita said the clincher of disapproval comes from having the camping awning split over two levels and a lower level of rocks. 

What those folks want is for NC State Parks to design workable, realistic, camper-need-focused sites.  KLPW thinks that’s a reasonable request!

The above photos are both recent and real which makes them a real shame.  KLPW and the campers who frequent the state’s recreation areas are sharing this with other campers and with you in an effort to gain improvements that are way past due.

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

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KERR LAKE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT OUT FROM CORPS OF ENGINEERS – KLPW VIEW? JURY IS STILL OUT TOO

YOU HAVE UNTIL MAY 31st TO MAKE YOUR OPINION ON KNOWN AND COUNT WITH THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS.  Kerr Lake Park Watch recently received the just completed environmental assessment (EA) prepared by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  The EA as it is called discusses the environmental impacts of the Aquatic Vegetation Management Program (AVMP) at the John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir Project (Kerr Reservoir).

The intent of the AVMP is to reduce and avoid adverse impacts associated with uncontrolled growth of hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) in the Reservoir.



The Corps of Engineers is encouraging people with information and/or opinions on HYRDRILLA to make sure the Corps receives any public comment regarding the EA no later than May 31, 2013.

The EA can be found at the following link:

http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Locations/DistrictLakesandDams/JohnHKerr/NaturalResources/AquaticVegetationManagement.aspx

KLPW, in reading the document in a scan only mode only has one assessment at this point:  The US Army Corps of Engineers has again stopped short of taking full responsibility for the lake which it fully, totally and unconditionally owns outright.  We think the Corps should do much more than just regulate spraying; spraying that is at a cost to everyone but the Corps.

Posted in: KLPW - Hydrilla Information, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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POINTED REQUEST STATE PARKS – Move the Furnace From Hibernia Area 3 Bath to Area 2 Bath

Yesterday morning it was 43 degrees outside and 48 degrees in the only bath house open in Hibernia State Recreation area.  With all its heat and lights burning bright, the closed bath at Area 3 sat empty.

I (Frank Timberlake) sat alone in the 48 degree Area 2 bath and by the way, the lights clicked off in just a couple of minutes, leaving me in a pretty dark situation.

USE YOUR MAINTENANCE FUNDS, state parks people and move the propane heater from the Area 3 bath to the Area 2 bath.

Ok…simplifying…

     – Area 3 bath, heated, open only June, July & August

     – Area 2 bath, unheated, open March, April, May, June, July, August, September 
            & October

Solution found.  Now execute!  Remember, Governor McCrory would like to see some customer service in state government!  We campers are long overdue!

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

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LET’S GET BACKWARDS OUT OF NC REC AREAS OF KERR LAKE or THE LIGHTS ARE ON BUT NOBODY’S HOME

The following is a personal account given by Frank Timberlake, Lead Public Affairs for Kerr Lake Park Watch.

By a lot of the campers who frequent Hibernia, one of the seven NC Recreation Areas around Kerr Lake, Hibernia is often referred to as the “red-headed step child.”  Personnel shifts at the park have been on the rise after the departure of a long-time, long-experienced chief ranger.  While many of the recreation areas sport new electric and water campsites, new bath houses, new boat ramps and while all kinds of new services and features go into the state parks like the new elevator at Chimney Rock and new visitor centers abound, Hibernia continues to join its lake-surrounding brethren parks in leading the lagging.

On another note, we were scared to drive through Henderson, but we made it through fine without being assaulted, car-jacked or mugged. 

KLPW is visiting many of the parks around Kerr Lake during the next week or so to compile another year’s list for improvements. I want to bypass all the lofty improvements we’d like to see and to first share a couple of real-world camping experiences of our own.

Here’s a couple of tips necessary if you run into a dark or cold bathroom while camping at Hibernia.  Be careful when you approach the bathroom in Area 2.  If you walk in and the motion sensor turns on the lights, make sure you can complete your business before the timer decides to go off, otherwise you can end up sitting in the dark or near dark.  KLPW is reasonably sure that a general memo ordering the timers came from Raleigh from someone who has never camped and is a fast tripper to the restroom.


KLPW PHOTO

Last year I was left totally in the dark in that bathhouse when the timer clicked off the lights.  This photo was clicked right before the lights went out this morning.  With the clouds and a dark bathhouse it became…interesting.

For May it’s very cold.  The State of North Carolina way overpaid for some of these bath facilities, but none may be more famous or infamous than the bathhouse in Area 3 of Hibernia.

The Area 3 bathhouse is closed and locked now.  But check out all the burning lights tonight.  The lights are on but no one is home!


KLPW PHOTO

Now that is not the real rub.  If you look very closely at the left side of this photo, just to the left or back of the building, you will see a propane gas tank.  That is because this locked and closed bathhouse has heat, the only one in Hibernia with heat.  It may well be one of very few of any to have heat in the seven NC State Recreation Areas at Kerr Lake.

This bathhouse, complete with heat, would have been nice for those of us wanting a shower or just a visit and we would certainly have appreciated access to a heated bath facility.  But what you don’t know is that this bathhouse, the only heated one in a park that is open from March through October, is only open June, July and August, when you don’t need any heat!  I will repeat that: the only heated bathroom in the park is only open the 3 summer months.

Why don’t you stand up for your park?  It’s time for campers and park users to reverse the trends of senseless operation, procedures and policies that come from mindless memo makers up the chain.  It’s time for the people who work in these parks to use public support to change these asinine policies, put some customer care and common sense into park operations.

We want, we pay for, and we deserve for the lights to be on and somebody to be home, especially on a cold camping day we could use a little heat in the john and the light left on!

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

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