Cost-cutting reducing recreational facilities operations

MOBILE, AL (WTOC) - Due to reductions in government spending the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District is seeing a reduction in operations and maintenance services provided to visitors at recreational facilities in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, according to a statement provided by the Corps.

Certain facilities will see temporary or partial closures or compressed seasonal schedules.

Services will be concentrated on the more heavily-used recreation areas during the peak season. In order to ensure that most campers are accommodated, adjustments are being made in the seasonal schedules and availability of facilities. Facilities such as shower houses and comfort stations or restrooms will continue to operate in a safe, healthy manner; the frequency of cleaning will be reduced.

Portions of recreation areas, known as loops, may be temporarily closed. Facility repairs and damages that pose an immediate public health and safety threat will continue to be resolved immediately.

"Recreation areas will remain open to the maximum extent possible; however, services such as

mowing, cleaning and litter pick up will be significantly reduced, especially in remote, low-use areas," said E. Patrick Robbins, Mobile District's Chief of Public Affairs in a press release.

"We understand these temporary closures and reduced seasons may have a local economic impact, but our budget dictates we find savings in our recreation program."

Temporary closures have been scheduled for several facilities during the 2012 recreation season, including parts of the Allatoona Lake and Lake Sidney Lanier facilities. At Allatoona Lake the Clark Creek North and Upper Stamp Creek Campgrounds and at Lake Sidney Lanier the Sawnee Campground and Lower Pool East and Upper Overlook Day Use areas will not operate in 2012.

Some partial closures are also scheduled. Carters Lake, Okatibbee Lake and West Point Lake will see some discontinuations. Specifically, Carters Lake's primitive campgrounds at Harris Branch, Ridgeway and Woodring Campground will not be operated during the 2012 recreation season. West Point Lake will not operate the primitive campground at Ringer Park during 2012. However, other recreational uses within these parks will be accommodated.

Seasonal schedules for some parks will be compressed at Allatoona Lake, Alabama River Lakes, Black Warrior & Tombigbee, Okatibbee Lake, Lake Sidney Lanier, Walter F. George and West Point Lake. Specifically, seasons will be reduced at Payne Campground and Cooper Furnace and Riverside day use areas located on Allatoona Lake.

Chilatchee Creek, Isaac Creek, Millers Ferry, Prairie Creek and Six Mile Creek campgrounds will close for the winter season at Alabama River Lakes. Burchfield Branch, Jennings Ferry, Forkland, and Service Park Campgrounds will close for the winter season at Black Warrior and Tombigbee. Bald Ridge Creek and Old Federal Campground located on Lake Sidney Lanier will open one month later and close two months earlier in 2012. Walter F. George will seasonally close Bluff Creek and White Oak Creek Campgrounds from November 2011 – February 2012 while Hardridge, Cool Branch, Rood Creek and Highland day-use areas will close for the winter season from October 2011 – February 2012. Amity Campground at West Point Lake will seasonally close from September 2011 – March 2012.

Reductions in operations will occur at Allatoona Lake, Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway and Okatibbee Lake. Specifically, Upper Tanyard and Victoria day-use areas will only operate four and five days per week, respectively, throughout the 2012 recreation season.

The Tom Bevill Visitor Center located on Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway will operate Friday– Sunday only throughout 2012. Collinsville, East Bank, Pine Springs and West Bank day-use areas located on Okatibbee Lake will operate four days per week for the 2012 season.

Finally, Allatoona will seasonally close McKaskey, Sweetwater and Victoria Campgrounds and Galts Ferry day-use area for the winter season, only operating the parks four days per week during the peak recreation season.

"Our goal is to provide a continuous, quality outdoor experience for our customers as we serve the public to the best of our ability," Robbins said in a statement.

To contact a visitor center for more information about park operations, visit Mobile District's website and scroll under the "Find a recreation area" link.

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