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Recreation areas now open in Cumberland River Basin

Staff Reports • Mar 16, 2017 at 10:54 AM

NASHVILLE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s 146 recreation areas, 25 developed campgrounds and primitive camping areas in Kentucky and Tennessee remain quiet, empty and closed, but that all will change this week. 

Defeated Creek Campground at Cordell Hull Lake opened its gates Wednesday, making it the first of the Nashville District’s campgrounds to open for the 2017 recreation season. 

A complete list of Nashville District campgrounds and corresponding details is available at lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Camping.aspx. Campers are able to make reservations 180 days in advance through the National Recreation Reservation Service by calling toll free at 877-444-6777 or online at recreation.gov.

“We have some of the best campgrounds in the country.  They fill up quickly depending on the holidays or local events taking place. Now is the time to start making plans and reservations for this spring, summer and fall,” said Mark Klimaszewski, natural resources specialist with the Nashville District. “It won’t be long and we’ll have waves of people visiting our recreation areas and campgrounds.”

Eight of the 10 lakes in the Nashville District have at least two Corps of Engineers-managed campgrounds to offer its visitors. Many of the campgrounds have playgrounds, restrooms, electric hookups, shower houses, sewage hookups and laundry facilities. A night’s stay can range from $12 to $32, depending on the amenities, allowing for an affordable vacation.

Klimaszewski said the district’s 25 campgrounds are unique because they are situated adjacent to lakes. Because of this, they are minutes from one the many U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed boat ramps, commercial marinas and majority of the time – a town.

Kendall Campground at Lake Cumberland stays open until Nov. 26. The rest of the campgrounds open no later than mid-May.

An important new policy campers need to be aware of for the 2017 recreation season is a requirement for visitors of recreation areas, primitive campsites and the district’s 25 campgrounds to use only firewood that has been certified as heat-treated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or state natural resource agency. The Nashville District seeks the public’s cooperation to prevent the spread of forest insects and disease throughout the Cumberland River Basin.

“The 2017 recreation season is a year of transition and education about the Corps’ firewood policy,” said Bobby Jackson, Nashville District Natural Resources specialist. “Verbal or written warnings will likely be issued for the majority of discoveries. Citations could be issued to address especially difficult situations.”

Jackson said the staff at recreation.gov, where camping reservations are made online and via telephone, will distribute information as well about the firewood policy. 

“Every effort is being made to inform and educate visitors to alleviate frustration regarding the new firewood policy,” Jackson said.

Certified firewood vendors are available at firewoodscout.org. The public can get more information about the new firewood policy on the Nashville District’s website at lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Firewood.

Spring is fast approaching and is a comfortable time to camp because of milder temperatures. More campsites are available in spring and fall when schools are often in session. Many campgrounds fill up quickly during the summer and on holiday weekends.  

Several lakes across the district offer a primitive camping program. J. Percy Priest and Center Hill Lakes manage a permit system for free to reserve a stay at the designated camping areas along the shoreline. Dale Hollow Lake offers the same program, but is managed through the same reservation system as the developed campgrounds, National Reservation Recreation Service, for $3 per night.

Since the campgrounds and recreation areas are near the water, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants visitors to think safety.  There were 12 water-related fatalities at Nashville District lakes during the 2016 recreation season. Of those, 11 were confirmed not wearing their life jacket. The one that wore one did not fit properly.

Campgrounds throughout the Nashville District are still seeking park attendants to help support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer mission of recreation. To place a bid for the 2016 recreation season, visit fbo.gov or contact J.W. Purcell, contract specialist with the Nashville District, at 615-736-7674.

— Lee Roberts, Nashville District Public Affairs

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