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Cherokee National Forest closing camping and recreation sites

Published: Mar. 23, 2020 at 12:30 PM EDT
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Cherokee National Forest will close all camping, cabins, group recreation sites and restrooms due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The area will close at noon on Monday, March 23, and remain closed until at least May 15.

The closure includes the Ocoee Whitewater Center, Chilhowee Day Use, Buffalo Mtn. ATV Trail, all campgrounds, cabins, beaches, shooting ranges, picnic pavilions and all restrooms. Boat launches, most trailheads, and the general forest area, including trails and river corridors, will remain open to hiking, biking, boating, dispersed camping, hunting, fishing, etc. The use of trail shelters on the Appalachian Trail is discouraged.

"By closing campsites and group recreation sites, the USDA Forest Service is taking necessary measures to safeguard the health of employees and the public," a release from Cherokee National Forest said. "The health and safety of employees and the nearby communities is always our top priority at the USDA Forest Service."

In addition to closing camping and recreational site, all Cherokee National Forest offices are operating virtually until further notice.

Customers needing information, permits and maps are encouraged to visit the website https://www.fs.usda.gov/cherokee/ or call the nearest CherokeeNational Forest office.

Individuals with paid reservations through May 15, 2020, will be contacted by email and full refunds will automatically be processed with no cancellation fees. People are asked not to contact Recreation.gov to request a refund. Doing so will result in a cancellation fee being charged.

Reservations made farther into the future will remain valid, unless circumstances demand further closures.

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