Thursday, March 23, 2017

Temporary Closures in Cherokee National Forest Due to Black Bear Activity

U.S. Forest Service officials at the Cherokee National Forest announced that national forest lands within the corridor between the area known as Oliver Hollow north to Wilbur Dam are temporarily closed to public entry except for people hiking through on the Appalachian Trail. The closure is being implemented because of black bear activity in the area.

National forest lands within the corridor are temporarily closed to public entry by land and water access, except for through hiking on the Appalachian Trail. The Watauga Lake shelter on the Appalachian Trail is closed. Oliver Hollow is located on Watauga Lake in Carter County on Oliver Hollow Road off Highway 321 near Hampton, TN.

National Forest System Lands within the closure area are from Oliver Hollow Road following the Appalachian Trail north. The eastern closure boundary is to the shores of Watauga Lake to the shared boundary with TVA land to Wilbur Lake and continuing along the Wilbur Lake edge to Wilbur Dam. The western closure boundary includes the corridor from the Appalachian Trail to the ridge of Iron Mountain from Oliver Hollow Road to Wilbur Dam.

Oliver Hollow is a popular dispersed camping and day use area on the western end of Watauga Lake in the Cherokee National Forest. Black bears frequent the corridor and Oliver Hollow. Bears are opportunists and become habituated to campsites and picnic areas where food has been improperly discarded or stored and is easily available. Though naturally shy of people, bears learn to associate people with food. They learn to frequent the same areas where they may encounter humans. This is when concerns arise.

Forest Service officials say that in all outdoor recreation settings, you should always store your food and trash so it does not attract bears and other animals. Food should be properly stored in a vehicle, in appropriate bear resistant containers or hung from a bear pole or tree when in bear country. Trash should be placed in bear-resistant trash cans where available or packed out when you leave. Do not discard any food scraps in picnic areas, shooting ranges or any other recreation site. Doing so may attract bears and lead to temporary closure of the site if safety becomes a concern due to bear activity.

National forest visitor cooperation with this and similar closures may help break the cycle of bears returning to the same sites in search of human food, protecting you and the bears.

Please click here for a map of the closed area.



Jeff
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