Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sequestration closes some Smokies sites

 (Note: My Apple MacBook Pro is back from the hospital. That means a resumption of posts.)

Great Smoky Mountains

I was wondering how the governmental sequester issue was going to affect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Well, I found out this week that what they are going to have to do will affect us somewhat but not mess up our trip to the area this coming July.

We already have reservations for seven nights for a site in Elkmont Campground which is about six miles outside of Gatlinburg.

Cascading waterways add to enjoyment at park

The good news is that Elkmont, so far, is not affected. That's a relief.

But a location we planned on staying a few days will be closed, and that is the Balsam Mountain Campground.

That site is up the Blue Ridge Parkway northeast of Cherokee. We like to spend time there because it is not as crowded and is at a higher elevation, meaning the days and nights are cooler.

My wife and I belong to the Great Smoky Mountains Association and, among other publications, receive a monthly Email letting us know what is going on in the park.

Laurel Falls, a favorite spot

The monthly E-Newsletter is called "the cub report" and has a lot of good information. To become a dues-paying member and support the park go to the GSMA fundraising site.

Quoting from the publication:

'Sequestration has left its mark on the Smokies in the form of a 5% budget reduction. Three campgrounds, two picnic areas, one horse camp, and associated access roads, will not open during this year.

Facilities to remain closed in 2013 include:
- Look Rock Campground and Picnic Area and the Abrams Creek Campground in Tennessee
- Balsam Mountain Campground and Picnic Area, including Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain roads
- Tow String Horse Camp in North Carolina

In addition, several campgrounds and roads that usually open in March will be delayed until mid-April.

"We regret this will cause inconvenience to park visitors," said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson, "especially those who have enjoyed these more remote areas of the Smokies year after year.  We have focused our workforce to maximize the utilization of facilities throughout the remainder of the park in order to serve and provide recreational opportunities for our millions of park visitors."'

It is not as bad as it could have been and we hope those are the only locations that are going to be closed.

Next post: April 9, 2013

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