CLEVELAND, TENN, September 13, 2018 – The USDA Forest Service is closely tracking the forecast models of Hurricane Florence. It has been determined that it is necessary to close all developed (improved facilities) campgrounds and certain other areas in the northern portion (Unaka and Watauga ranger districts) of Cherokee National Forest by Friday, September 14 at 12 noon. Sites will be evaluated for health and safety and reopened as conditions allow following the storm passage.
The closures are being implement in the interest of public health and safety. Forest Service officials at the Cherokee National Forest strongly recommend that, due to expected wind and rainfall, the public not use trails or general forest areas. Emergency response times will be multiplied if an incident or medical emergency were to occur.
Excessive rain and high wind have the potential to create high water, flash floods, falling trees, mudslides, and severe damage to facilities and roads. Much of the Cherokee National Forest is heavily forested, remote and mountainous, making the potential for hazardous conditions significant.
Anyone planning a visit anywhere in the Cherokee National Forest should seriously consider postponing their visit until the threat of Florence diminishes.
For outdoor safety information visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r8/home/?cid=fsbdev3_066387
The following areas in Cherokee National Forest will be closed at noon on Friday September 14, 2018. This will include the temporary suspension of creating reservations on www.recreation.gov. Cancelled reservations, for this timeframe, will be refunded by the reservation service.
Watauga Ranger District (northeast Tennessee -Carter, Sullivan, and Johnson counties):
Backbone Rock Campground
Backbone Rock Recreation Area Pavilions
Little Oak Campground
Jacob’s Creek Campground
Jacob’s Creek Day Use Area
Jacob’s Creek Shooting Range
Dennis Cove Campground
Shook Branch Day Use Area
Rat Branch Boat Ramp
Pond Mountain Shooting Range
Watauga Point Recreation Area
Little Milligan Boat Ramp
The Laurels Picnic Area Pavilions
Little Stoney Camping Area
Unaka Ranger District (northeast Tennessee – Cocke, Unicoi and Greene counties):
Bubbling Springs Shooting Range
Scioto Shooting Range
Paint Creek Corridor
Cherokee National Forest Supervisor JaSal Morris said, “We are implementing this closure for public safety concerns. With the uncertainty of the extent of impacts from Hurricane Florence we believe this closure is prudent and necessary. Depending on the path of Florence it may be necessary to close additional areas I’d like to emphasize that if you are planning a visit to any portion of the Cherokee National Forest in the next several days you should seriously consider postponing your visit until the threat of Florence in this area diminishes. Our highest priority is employee and national forest visitor safety. The closure will be lifted as soon as the storm threat has passed and damage assessments are completed.”
For information about conditions in Cherokee National Forest call any of the following Forest
o Forest Supervisor’s Office – Cleveland, TN: 423-476-9700
o Ocoee Ranger District – Benton, TN: 423-338-3300
o Ocoee Whitewater Center – Copperhill, TN: 423-496-0100
o Tellico Ranger District – Tellico Plains, TN: 423-253-8400
o Unaka Ranger District – Greeneville, TN: 423-638-4109
o Watauga Ranger District – Unicoi, TN: 423-735-1500
Visit online at: http://fs.usda.gov/cherokee