Agencies in North and South Carolina have agreed on a temporary solution to the problem of accessing the Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges through North Carolina.
The Jocassee Gorges was purchased by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 1998, and certain sections can only be legally accessed over roads in North Carolina. The South Carolina DNR secured an easement across certain roads to ensure public access in 1998. In 1999, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources bought the property that supports those roads and established Gorges State Park.
South Carolina DNR and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources have differed in opinion as to how the easement roads will be managed and used by the public. A recent meeting between the agencies was held in Asheville, N.C., where many issue surfaced, but the question of access was not resolved. , The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources State Parks Division recently offered to open the road with certain restrictions for the spring of 2007. South Carolina DNR accepted the proposal for spring 2007, however many differences of opinion remain to be worked out.
“This is a tough situation, where we want to be good neighbors, protect the environment, yet use the privileges we secured for public access at the same time,” said Mark Hall, South Carolina DNR Jocassee project manager. “North Carolina Parks does not want unregulated public vehicular traffic through their park. We respect the State Park’s philosophy of land management, however we think we can derive a solution that will allow regulated public access and satisfy everyone for the long haul.”
Persons wishing to access remote portions of the Jocassee Gorges can travel from Salem, S.C., up SC Highway 130 to where the highway changes to NC Highway 281. About 8 miles into North Carolina, take a right into the North Carolina’s Gorges State Park parking lot and enter the access road through the gate at the back of the parking lot. Hunters using the road must unload and case their guns. Visitors must have licensed, four-wheel drive vehicles and may not stop or leave their vehicles until they reach North Carolina Game Lands at Turkey Pen Gap. After reaching Turkey Pen Gap, travel west about 1/2 mile, then south on Bear Creek Road to South Carolina’s Crossroads Mountain. The road will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from March 20 to May 10. Gates will open at 5 a.m. during the month of April (except Sunday) to accommodate turkey hunters.