July 17, 2013
Camping ban remains in effect at Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve in Jocassee Gorges
The camping ban at popular Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve in northern Pickens County remains in effect because of the risk of dead and dying hemlock trees on the property.
Recently, a group disregarded the camping ban and illegally camped on the preserve, and one of the campers was seriously injured by a falling tree.
"Because so many hemlock trees have died due to hemlock woolly adelgids, it's just too dangerous to let people camp in the preserve," said Mary Bunch, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologist and heritage preserve manager. "We hope visitors who use the preserve will respect the camping ban, because it is in place for their safety."
In addition to camping being closed on Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve, campfires are also prohibited due to the large number of dead trees. Large signs prominently placed in the preserve remind visitors that camping and campfires are not allowed there.
Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve is owned and managed by DNR and covers 374 acres in Pickens County. This steep mountain gorge features a trout stream, dramatic rock cliffs and rare ferns that are maintained by the creek's moist spray. The 2.7-mile trail into the preserve, a spur of the 77-mile Foothills Trail, is popular with naturalists and local hiking groups.
The Jocassee Gorges in Pickens and Oconee counties was recently named one of “50 of the World’s Last Great Places—Destinations of a Lifetime” in a special edition of National Geographic magazine.
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