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Some recreation areas of Cherokee National Forest set to reopen

According to Public Affairs Staff Officer Terry McDonald, some day-use sites, such as shooting ranges, picnic areas and small campgrounds, are to reopen May 15.

Some recreation sites in the Cherokee National Forest will reopen starting Friday on a staggered schedule that's subject to change.

According to Public Affairs Staff Officer Terry McDonald, some day-use sites, such as shooting ranges, picnic areas and small campgrounds, are to reopen May 15.

More sites plus campgrounds should open May 24, and most remaining campgrounds will likely open the first week of June.

But plans could change, according to McDonald.

"Projected opening dates may vary depending on circumstances, and it may be necessary to not open or to close areas again if conditions change," McDonald said in a news release.

Forest authorities will take a site-by-site approach to reopening developed recreation sites. They'll look at facility cleanliness and maintenance status among other things.

Other features of the forest system have stayed opening during the coronavirus outbreak such as boat launches and trails.

The forest consists of more than 650,000 acres, most of it in East Tennessee.

Individuals with paid reservations starting May 15 that may experience a cancellation will be contacted by email. Full refunds will automatically be processed by Recreation.gov with no cancellation fees, according to McDonald's release.