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USDA issues additional regulations at Max Patch after misuse

As of July 1st, people will not be able to camp overnight at Max Patch. The USDA announced additional regulations that will be in effect over the next 2 years.
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 7:05 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - As of July 1st, people will not be able to camp overnight at Max Patch. The United States Department of Agriculture announced additional regulations that will be in effect over the next 2 years. There are now limits on how many people can go, at what times and what they can do.

The new rules are listed as follows from the USA website:

  • No camping.
  • No fires.
  • Area closes 1 hour after sundown. Reopens 1 hour before sunrise. Visitors prohibited during closed hours.
  • Group size limited to 10.
  • Dogs and other animals must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet, or in a crate or cage.
  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Aircraft may not land nor drop off or pick up anything in this area. Drones are prohibited on the Appalachian Trail.
  • No fireworks.
  • Bikes must stay on roads only.
  • Horses and other saddle and pack animals may not be ridden, hitched, tethered, or hobbled in this area.

“We’ve been working with partners to achieve sustainable recreation at Max Patch because of the impacts due to a significant increase in visitors over the past decade,” said Appalachian District Ranger Jen Barnhart. “Unfortunately, the level of use is causing a public safety hazard as well as serious damage to wildlife habitat.

Benny Braden is an avid hiker who hosts cleanups of public lands like The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and The National Forest. He’s been cleaning up trash at Max Patch, but says it’s gotten worse over the last year.

He thinks this decision will help with the trash problem and allow the land to heal.

“And we can see max patch at her glorious self again for use all to enjoy,” said Braden.

Braden hopes that after 2 years people will be able to use the land again responsibly. Visitors can still go to Max Patch. The park opens an hour before sunrise and closes an hour after sunset.

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