New lease allows campground to open

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Saturday, March 5, 2014

Strom Thurmond Lake
Thurmond Lake (WRDW-TV / Feb. 22, 2012)

(WRDW) -- Jimmy Love has been claiming this spot in Clay Hill for decades now and when he saw it was closed he immediately made calls to the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

"Well what are we going to do we've been going there for 40 years and they said well I hate it, but it's just not going to open," Love said.

The Army Corps of Engineers said three camps came close to closing: Hester's Ferry, Broad River and Clay Hill.

"With budget and just the reality of budgeting we had to set some priorities and those camp grounds were targeted to be closed for the 2014 season," said Jay Weidman, a Ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Luckily for the Love family, Lincoln County stepped in and signed a lease agreement with the Corps of Engineers taking over full operations of those three camp grounds.

"We're delighted to partner with Lincoln County and those areas will remain open for the folks that are used to camping there. They'll have full access to them just like they have in the past it's just the management will be different this year," Weidman said.

"I was excited when I found out they were leasing it for five years. So, for the next five years I know that we'll be able to come," Love said.

The cost to rent a spot out there is $20 a night Lincoln County will be able to keep those fees which will pay for the maintenance and up keep. The campgrounds opened up April 2nd, and once the Love's found out they hustled down to their favorite spot.

"We were in a rush to get down here because they just took it over Tuesday," Love said.

The Clay Hill campground like many others has multiple generation campers. Love and his wife started going there, then they started taking their kids and now they take their grandson. Love says there's no better place to be.

"You just got to love it. Some people love the crowd with the big beaches and the parks and the playgrounds and stuff, but we just like it out in the middle of nowhere," Love said.

There were a few camp grounds that did have to close due to budget cuts. Mount Carmel Campground and Leroys Ferry in McCormick County closed, but their boat ramps are still open for use. Raysville campground in McDuffie County is closed.

Those with the Corps of Engineers say to there are still plenty of other places you can go camp and are encouraging people to try something new.

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