Corps Cuts Back Services at Thurmond Lake
Some of popular camping and day use areas in South Carolina’s Thurmond Lake will open later and close earlier this year due in part to shrinking proposed federal budgets unveiled in Washington this week, the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle reported.
Thurmond Lake, one of the Southeast’s largest and most popular public recreation lakes, is known as Clark’s Hill Lake in Georgia.
“Instead of complete park closures, we focused on adjusting visitor services and operating seasons to lower overall operations and maintenance costs,” said operations division chief Peggy O’Bryan of the Corps of Engineers’ Savannah District.
Although the president’s fiscal 2013 civil works budget includes $66 million for projects, analyses and operations within the district, the maintenantance and operations budgets were reduced for Thurmond Lake and nearby lakes Russell and Hartwell upstream.
The proposed 2013 $27.9 million allocation for the dams and lakes includes $9.5 million for Thurmond Lake, down from the current year’s $9.8 million.
Hartwell’s $9.9 million sum is down from the current $10.5 million; and while Lake Russell’s operations budget increased from $7.3 million to $8.4 million, the increase was more than offset by a drop in environmental monitopring funds, which fell from $3.2 million to $1 million.
Within Thurmond Lake’s total budget is a recreation services budget that has fallen about 25 percent over the last five years — from about $5 million to $3.6 million.
Consequently, corps officals are working to cut costs while keeping the most popular sites open during the seasons of highest demand, said Aaron Wahus, Thurmond Lake’s park operations manager.
Changes coming this year include delayed opening at five campgrounds: Winfield, Big Hart, Rayesville, Modoc and Broad River. Those sites usually open March 1, and this year will open either on March 15 or April 1, he said.
This fall, Rayesville and Modoc, which usually close at the end of October, will instead close Sept. 30; while Clay Hill, usually open until Sept. 30, will close Sept. 3 after Labor Day Weekend.
Also, the following day use areas closed on Labor Day and will be open May 1 through Labor Day in 2012: Parksville, West Dam, Lake Springs and Amity. Boat ramps at Parksville, Lake Springs and Amity will remain open all year.
Most day use areas previously stayed open through Sept. 30 and started closing afer Labor Day last season and will continue to do so again this year, Wahus said. Small portions of day use areas with boat ramps will remain open year-round, as they have in the past.