Cable Cove Campground will not re-open in 2022

ROBBINSVILLE, NC -- Release Date: Feb 11, 2022 U.S. Forest Service officials announced they will not re-open
Cable Cove Campground located in Robbinsville, NC on the Nantahala National Forest in 2022.

The aging facility has over $184,300 in current, existing deferred maintenance needs. The campground fees that are collected annually do not meet the current yearly operating and maintenance expenses due to low occupancy rates throughout the operating season, and do not provide funding for existing deferred maintenance costs. 

"This has been a difficult decision because we know many families and friends have fond memories of camping there," said District Ranger Andrew Gaston. "But the reality is that we need to focus our efforts on areas and activities where the public use reflects higher demand to ensure that we are making the best use of our limited budget. We do want the campground to reopen in the future, but we don’t yet know what that’s going to look like.”

A comprehensive analysis of recreation sites across the National Forests revealed that Cable Cove Campground has excessive deferred maintenance costs, low use levels, and increased management costs. Factors leading to the decision to keep the campground closed in 2022 include:

The potable water system, restrooms, and restroom wastewater system do not meet current health and safety requirements and Forest Service guidelines.
An independent floodplain analysis shows that approximately 50% of the existing campsites are located within the “10% annual chance floodplain”. A “10% annual chance flood” is a flood event that has a 1 in 10 chance of occurring in any given year. These sites will be decommissioned while the campground is closed.
Campground amenities including restrooms do not meet current accessibility requirements for persons with disabilities.
With occupancy rates of only 17% (over a 10-year period), average annual fee receipts of approximately $9,500 per year barely cover costs for trash removal, restroom cleaning and mowing/landscaping. 
The lack of electricity at the campground has made the operation of the water system problematic and makes it very difficult to consistently recruit campground hosts to help monitor the fragile potable water and wastewater systems.    
An estimated $350,000 is needed to remediate the existing deferred maintenance needs and to install new restrooms to address health and safety concerns and to comply with accessibility requirements. While attempts to secure funding through opportunities such as the Great American Outdoors Act have not yet been successful, we will continue to pursue these additional sources of funding as opportunities become available. 

Given the financial realities, the Forest Service must determine the most suitable activities, investments, and locations and how they complement other offerings on public and private land. Within 30 miles of Cable Cove Campground, there are four other Forest Service campgrounds and 85 free dispersed campsites located within Graham County. There are also numerous private campgrounds in the area that offer similar or better facilities. 

The Cable Cove Boat Launch will remain open to provide year-round access to Fontana Lake for boating and fishing activities. 

For more information on recreation opportunities on the Nantahala National Forest see https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5368417.pdf

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