By Mr. Leon Roberts (USACE)April 8, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- People who love fresh air and enjoy beautiful lakeside views should make time this year to stay at one of the 25 campgrounds nestled along the Cumberland River and its tributaries that are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District.
"As the cold winter gives way to mild spring temperatures, it's an ideal time for campers to get their RV's out of storage to camp or to stake a tent at a Nashville District campground where they can expect an enjoyable experience," said Mark Klimaszewski, a natural resources specialist with the Nashville District.
Outdoor activities such as hiking and horseback riding on Corps trails are popular in April and early May when temperatures are cooler. The bank fishing near campsites and easy access for boaters to secluded coves is also a plus for anglers.
"A lot of campers stay at our campgrounds just to take advantage of the rich fishing in the spring. In particular, crappie fishing has been exceptional at most of the Nashville District lakes. Many campers go out of their way to stay at Corps of Engineers campgrounds while on fishing trips," Klimaszewski said.
Park Ranger Amber Jones, a natural resources specialist at J. Percy Priest Lake in middle Tennessee, said visitors often provide feedback that they really like camping at Nashville District lakes because the camp sites and facilities are so well kept and they enjoy recreating because of the easy access to trails, boat ramps, fishing spots, and swimming areas.
"We try to do our best to keep these very well maintained," Jones said. "We try to keep the campsites updated and we just have beautiful campgrounds."
Six campgrounds have already opened up in 2014 for campers at Cheatham Lake, Dale Hollow Lake, J. Percy Priest Lake and Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee, and Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. Ten more campgrounds will open up later in April, including those at Center Hill Lake and Cordell Hull Lake in Tennessee, and Lake Barkley in Kentucky. The remaining campgrounds will open up in May.
A complete list of Nashville District campgrounds is available at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Camping.aspx. The list includes information about electric hookups, fees, dates of operation, visitor fees and contact numbers. It also includes links for each campground on www.recreation.gov, which provides more in-depth information about the facilities and allows users to make online reservations. Telephone reservations can also be made toll free at 1-877-444-6777.
Campers are reminded that while the district's campgrounds are not as busy in April and May, as compared to midsummer, they still remain among the most utilized Corps of Engineers campgrounds in the entire country. Visitors should always plan ahead and make reservations, which can be made up to six months in advance.
Klimaszewski said the camping facilities at the Nashville District lakes are well maintained. Routine maintenance took place during the winter months to make sure the campgrounds were ready for the 2014 recreation season.
"This winter was particularly hard on water lines and plumbing, but our maintenance staff spent considerable time repairing leaks and fixing broken lines," he said.
Jones said the Corps worked during the off season to make improvements at the campgrounds, which included repairing the plumbing, painting buildings, trimming trees, performing electrical work, installing new grills, and putting gravel down at campsites.
The campgrounds are opening and all that is left is for campers to enjoy them keeping safety in mind. Last year there were 14 fatalities during the recreation season, primarily from boating accidents and drowning incidents. With more than 33 million visitors annually to the 10 lakes in the Nashville District, the public is encouraged to remain vigilant while having fun.
When camping, Jones stresses that campers should never leave a fire unattended or leave trash and food out where wild animals are tempted to enter the area and feed. She said it's very important to be respectful of other campers and parents should always accompany their children to the public use facilities located in the campgrounds.
Campgrounds are obviously adjacent to the lakes, so Jones also recommends being familiar with water safety. Everyone should wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when playing or fishing at the lake. Keep an eye on kids at all times, be aware of nearby activities, and avoid alcohol -- especially if operating a boat. With social media and texting, it's especially important not to be distracted by electronic devices because it only takes seconds for unattended children to drown.
(Important water safety resources are available at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/WaterSafety.aspx. For more news, updates and information follow the Nashville District on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps)