In preparation for Hurricane Irma USDA Forest Service officials at the Cherokee National Forest are closing the Ocoee and Tellico Ranger Districts to public entry beginning at 12 p.m. on Monday. This closure includes all recreation areas, dispersed use areas, viewing areas, picnic sites, boat ramps, trails and the Ocoee Whitewater Center.
Excessive rain and wind expected from Irma has the potential to create high water, falling trees, flash floods, landslides, and damaged roads. Much of the Cherokee National Forest is remote and mountainous, making the potential for hazardous conditions significant.
If you are presently in the Cherokee National Forest’s Ocoee Ranger District (Polk County) or Tellico Ranger District (Monroe County) you must depart no later than noon on Monday. If you have been planning a visit and have made a reservation, please contact Recreation.gov on their website or call 877.444.6777.
Cherokee National Forest Supervisor JaSal Morris said, “We are implementing this closure for public safety concerns. With the uncertainty of the extent of impacts from the storm we believe this closure is prudent and necessary. Our highest priority is employee and national forest visitor safety. The closure will be lifted as soon as the storm threat has passed and damage assessments are completed.”
Additional closures in other areas of the Cherokee National Forest may become necessary as the storm progresses. A visit to any portion of the forest at this time is not advised.