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Forest Service reopens some SW Va. recreation sites for Memorial Day weekend

From staff reports • May 23, 2020 at 10:00 PM

NORTON — Some recreation, trail and day-use sites in the Jefferson National Forest will open for the Memorial Day weekend.

According to officials with the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, nine sites in the Clinch Ranger District in Lee, Scott, Wise and Dickenson counties will be open to the public starting Saturday.

“We know the importance of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests to communities, and we want people to use and enjoy the forests again,” said Job Timm, George Washington and Jefferson Forests supervisor. “We are working on phased plans to reopen sites and facilities, but protecting our visitors and employees remains our highest priority. And while we understand there may be some excitement from the public to return to beloved recreation areas, please respect site closures and continue to follow local, state, and federal guidelines on staying safe.”

The Clinch Ranger District sites scheduled to reopen include:

— Bark Camp Recreation Area, near Coeburn

— Guest River Gorge Trail, near Coeburn

— Hanging Rock Day Use Area, near Dungannon

— Little Stony National Recreation Trail, in Scott County near Coeburn

— High Knob Observation Tower site, near Norton

— Lake Keokee Day Use Area, in Lee County near Appalachia

— North Fork of Pound boat launch, near Pound

— Phillips Creek Day Area, near Pound

— Birch Knob Observation Tower site, near Clintwood

All restrooms will remain shut down. Visitors are responsible for providing their own personal protective equipment, including hand sanitizer, and must pack out what they pack in as trash service may not be available. In order to minimize environmental impacts, visitors are encouraged to practice the Leave No Trace principles found at lnt.org.

Some Clinch Ranger District recreation sites will remain closed, including:

— Cane Patch Campground

— Cave Springs Recreation Area

— Flatwoods Group Picnic Area

— High Knob Recreation Area

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests officials continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation. Visitors should avoid congregating at trailheads and/or parking areas and refrain from gathering in groups of 10 or more. Visitors should be prepared to change plans if high visitor use prevents social distancing.

Site visitors should review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html) along with local and state guidelines for social distancing and cloth face coverings.

For a complete list of recreation sites and their status, visit fs.usda.gov/recmain/gwj/recreation.

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