By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
The federal government shutdown is affecting parks and recreation areas operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
According to Corps Spokesman Billy Birdwell, many park rangers around the LakeHartwell area have been furloughed and Visitor Centers are now closed.
“The Visitor Center at Hartwell Dam is closed, the Visitor Center at Thurmond Dam is open at least for the time being,” Birdwell said Monday afternoon.
As of late Monday afternoon, there was no word on whether the Visitor Center at Richard B. Russell lake would stay open.
Birdwell said those seasonal recreation areas on Hartwell Lake that normally close on October 1 have closed as planned.
He went on to say that those campgrounds that normally stay open all year, such as Watsadler and Twin Lakes on LakeHartwell, could also close if the government shutdown continues.
“As we seek different levels of funding and different means of funding, we will keep those campgrounds open as long as we can,” Birdwell said. “But if the shutdown continues we may be forced to close those facilities as well.”
If that happens, campers may elect to leave their campsite reservations open for possible use after the shutdown ends.
Campers will receive a refund for any unused portion of their reservations.
However, Birdwell said that one important part of the SavannahRiver Basin, the dams themselves, will not be affected by the shutdown.
“The operation of the dams will continue. That is essential otherwise we would put the dams in danger so the operation of the dams will continue,” he said.
Birdwell said that of the 799 employees that make up the Corps’ Savannah River office, 133 have been furloughed so far.