September 8, 2003 DNR News (803) 734-3950
BAD WEATHER AND BUDGET WOES FORCE ROAD CLOSURES IN MOUNTAINS
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources will temporarily close three sections of roads within the Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges during the fall season. Jocassee is one of the state's largest mountain properties.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has struggled to keep key access roads open, but bad weather has hampered the effort, according to Sam Stokes Sr., DNR's Jocassee manager stationed in Clemson. A limited budget has also taken its toll, as only two men and limited equipment could be allocated to the job. The Jocassee Gorges is about 32,000 acres and contains 40 miles of roads normally open for public, vehicular access from March 20 to May 10 and Sept. 15 until Jan. 1 of each year.
"Everyone with heavy equipment work to do this year is way behind schedule," Stokes said. "Funds originally allocated for annual road maintenance on Jocassee have long been lost from our budget. We are committed to environmental quality and setting good examples of how forest access roads should be managed. When the roads get in bad condition we have to seed them and shut them down until we can engineer them properly to eliminate environmental impacts, especially to our cold water resources."
The two-mile Bad Creek Road was closed in spring 2003 and will not be reopened until it is repaired properly. Bad Creek Road provides important access to a camp site on Laurel Fork Creek and the Laurel Fork Waterfalls. The falls on Lake Jocassee may continue to be accessed by the Foothills Trail or by walking in from the Canebrake or Dawkins Flats Roads.
A three-mile section of the Old Horsepasture Road from Cane Creek to the main Horsepasture Road near Jumping Off Rock will be temporarily closed until funds are available to permit repair and maintenance. The road was also closed in the spring and some hunters took advantage of the closing to walk in to many quiet areas to successfully hunt wild turkey. The Cane Creek Road will be open for travel to Cane Creek, but closed at the point where it joins the Old Horsepasture Road. The scenic overlook of Lake Jocassee, known as Jumping-Off-Rock, may be accessed from Horsepasture Road and the US 178 entrance near Laurel Valley Lodge.
The five-mile Camp Adger Road will also remain closed until it is ready for use by the public. "If the weather permits, we could be done with the Camp Adger Road by mid-October," said Stokes. "However if we continue to receive the heavy rains we have had this year, it could be next summer before we finish."
When the Jocassee Gorges was purchased in 1998, an annual appropriation of $250,000 was in effect to help maintain the huge property. However, those funds were among the first of DNR's state funds to be cut. Stokes said that DNR intends to support traditional uses of the land and will strive to keep the basic road system open on a seasonal basis. "Waterfalls, green salamanders, Oconee bells and many long-range vistas are just a few of the natural wonders that may be enjoyed while visiting the Jocassee Gorges in upper Pickens County," Stokes said. More information on the Jocassee Gorges may be obtained on the DNR Internet home page at www.dnr.state.sc.us or call the Clemson DNR office at (864) 654-1671.
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