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Federal cuts continue to limit park visitors' campground options

11:31 PM, Jul 6, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Federal cuts continue to limit park visitors' campground opt

Look Rock campground has been closed since March.

(WBIR - Knoxville) Campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains are staying busy during this long holiday weekend. But this summer, visitors have limited options.

Federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, went into effect in March. As a result, the National Park Service took a 5 percent (or, $134 million) reduction for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) closed the following campgrounds: Abrams Creek, Look Rock and Baslam Mountain. GSMNP also closed two picnic areas and is managing with a smaller summer staff.

"We tried to choose areas that would be the least impact to our visitors. But we still know that while these are are least visited areas, they're still somebody's favorite spot," said Dana Soehn, a GSMNP spokesperson.

At Look Rock, both the campground and picnic area are still closed.

But despite limited campsites during one of its busiest weeks of the year, they have been able to accommodate. The rain caused some visitors to leave early, leaving space at places like Elkmont.

Elisa Calleiro and her family are spending the weekend at Elkmont.

"It would be nice to know that it's not off limits forever because I have tons of places I'd like to hike to and I'd like to know I can stay there at some point," Calleiro said.

Soehn said GSMNP is unsure when the three campgrounds will reopen; however, park rangers are still monitoring the areas and helping visitors who stop by for the day.

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