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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

March 29, 2011

Jocassee Gorges roads in Oconee County to open late due to prescribed burning

The roads in the Musterground area of the Jocassee Gorges in Oconee County will open later than usual this spring due to planned prescribed burns. The S.C. Forestry Commission is partnering with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to conduct prescribed burns in the area.

The Musterground area in Oconee County, accessible from Duke Energy’s Bad Creek Hydro Project, is normally open from March 20 until May 10 and Sept. 15 thru Jan 15 of each year for public vehicular access. This spring the roads will open on March 31 until May 10 to allow safe conditions for the burning.

"We hope to burn more than 500 acres this spring to enhance wildlife habitat," said Mark Hall, Jocassee Gorges manager. "It would be difficult to safely burn the area with vehicles on the roads that are being used as firebreaks."

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received federal funds to enhance burning activities on state-owned lands, including the Musterground area. The S.C. Forestry Commission will supervise the burns, which must be done in the right environmental conditions. The wet spring has delayed the prescribed burning, which was planned to occur in February.

This delay in road opening only applies to the Oconee County portion of Jocassee. The Pickens County portion, commonly known as the Horsepasture, will open to vehicles on March 20. All roads on Jocassee are open year round to foot travel, horse riders and non-motorized mountain bikes unless otherwise posted.

Waterfalls, green salamanders, black bear, uncommon plants such as Oconee bells and many long-range vistas are just a few of the natural wonders that may be found in the Jocassee Gorges in Pickens and Oconee counties.

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