Friday, May 15, 2020
Photo courtesy: MGN
LAKE STROM THURMOND, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- On a hot day with many restrictions, people are looking for things to do. But with campgrounds opening up, people might be able to get back to the activities they love.
"This about the only thing open right now," Donnie Beard said.
If you want to go for a boat ride, weekends can be crowded.
"Saturdays and Sundays are normally very bad with all the boat ramp closures," Jeremy Altman said.
Visitors said sometimes it takes 30 to 45 minutes to just get their boat in the water, but that could all change today when four more boat ramps open back up.
"We are expecting a good crowd this weekend on the reservoir for boating and fishing," said Billy Birdwell, a public affairs specialist for U.S Army Corps of Engineers.
He says thousands of reservations have been canceled since the coronavirus pandemic began, and all five campgrounds have been closed -- but they will reopen Monday.
"Now we do have restrictions on the campgrounds," Birdwell said.
Restrictions like only allowing 10 people per campsite, and no longer allowing visitors who are not registered campers.
"This will help eliminate the crowding and will help eliminate any kind of close contact that we are trying to avoid," Birdwell explained. "We will still allow all the campsites to be filled on Memorial Day and at all camping tops because the campsites themselves are physically separated from each other."
He said things like day-use areas and playgrounds will remain closed. But it's still a big step toward public places opening again.
What's reopening and when?
The moves are part of the corps' plans to reopen facilities at multiple locations it controls along the Savannah River.
Restrooms at boat ramps currently in use will be reopened. Additional boat ramps not associated with closed day-use areas will reopen. Visitors must bring their own soap and hand sanitizer and paper towels when using restrooms.
Playgrounds, beaches, shelters and life jacket loaner stands will remain closed until further notice. Visitor centers will remain closed to the public.
Here are the specifics:
J. Strom Thurmond Lake, below dam, reopening Friday: Shelter and playground are closed. Restroom occupancy limited to two. Water is available in the restrooms, but individuals must bring their own soap, hand sanitizer and paper towels.
Scott’s Ferry boat ramp at J. Strom Thurmond Lake, reopening Friday: Vault toilet – no water available; individuals must bring their own soap, hand sanitizer and paper towels.
Mount Pleasant and Keg Creek boat ramps and campgrounds at J. Strom Thurmond Lake and Hartwell Lake, reopening Monday: Restroom/shower house occupancy limited to two. Water is available in the restrooms; individuals must bring their own soap, hand sanitizer and paper towels.
• Campers must make all reservations through the recreation.gov website. No cash collection, on-site reservations or future reservations will be taken on site.
• Visitors with camping reservations should print their registration form before arriving at the campgrounds. This will help limit transferring material between the public and the campground staff.
• Individuals camping in trailers and motorhomes with shower and restroom facilities should use the facilities in their trailer or motorhome to assist in ensuring proper social distancing and to reduce occupancy at the restroom-shower houses in the campgrounds.
• Visitors must bring their own soap and hand sanitizer and paper towels when using restrooms.
• Visitors must follow social distancing guidance established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state or local limits.
• Congregating in groups of more than 10 will not be allowed.
• Campsite occupancy is limited to 10 per campsite.
• Only registered campers will be allowed in the campgrounds.
• Day-use fees, including boat ramp fees, are waived until October 2020.
• Day-use areas remain closed but may reopen later.
Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.