By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
The federal government shutdown is having an affect on parks and recreation areas operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
According to Corps spokesman Billy Birdwell, many park rangers around the Lake Hartwell area have been furloughed and Visitor Centers are now closed.
Birdwell said those seasonal recreation areas on Hartwell Lake that normally close on October 1st, have closed as planned.
Birdwell said those campgrounds that normally stay open all year, such as Watsadler and Twin Lakes on Hartwell Lake 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.
But one important part of the Savannah River Basin, Birdwell said will not be affected by the shutdown – that is, the dams themselves.
“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 of the 799 employees that make up the Corps Savannah River office, 133 have been furloughed so far.