Camping and recreation sites closed

  • The campground gates at Dockery Lake were closed on March 21, after the USDA Forest Service shutdown all campgrounds and group recreation areas in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
    The campground gates at Dockery Lake were closed on March 21, after the USDA Forest Service shutdown all campgrounds and group recreation areas in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
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If you are looking to enjoy nature during this time of social distancing, you might want to check the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest website before you head out.
In a news release issued by the USDA Forest Service, the camping and recreation sites on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest have been closed “indefinitely” based on public health concerns for visitors and staff due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
“As we work through an unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety is our number one priority,” said Acting Forest Supervisor Edward Hunter in the release. “We are committed to continuing to support our communities and  fulfill our mission as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19.”
Covering nearly 867,000 acres across 26 counties, the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is home to approximately 850 miles of recreation trails, campgrounds, picnic areas and other recreation activities.
According the the release, camping and group recreation sites; including picnic pavillions and all restrooms at recreation sites and trailheads; will be closed  “indefinitely.”
The move was made by the USDA Forest Service in response to guidance from State of Georgia health officials and experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“By closing campsites and group recreation sites, the USDA Forest Service is taking necessary measures to safeguard the health of employees and the public,” read the release. “The health and safety of employees and the nearby communities is always our top priority.”
Some trails and roads may be open for use, but the USDA Forest Service is urging those utilizing those trails and roads to follow the public health guidelines regarding social distancing laid out by the CDC and the White House in order to stop the spread of the virus.
The release also warned against high risk activities, such as rock climbing and motorized activities, as “law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues.”
In addition to closing  camping and recreation sites, all Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests offices are operating virtually until further notice. This means most employees will be teleworking and are no longer doing business in person.
“To protect the health and safety of our employees and customers, we also are not scheduling face-to-face meetings,” read the release.
If you have any questions regarding the closings, the USDA Forest Service suggests visiting its website at fs.usda.gov/alerts/conf/alert-notices.