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December 2020
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Outdoor trail parks close over crowd concerns

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Two of the prime outdoor parks in Pickens County have closed after seeing large crowds there following the shelter-in-place order for this county.

Talking Rock Nature Preserve, across from Biguns BBQ on Highway 515, announced they were closing for the extent of the county’s shelter-in-place ordinance.

Bill Jones, of the park’s owner Southeast Trust for Parks and Land, said in an e-mail to board members  that reports of large crowds gathering in parking areas were not in line with the social distancing requirements.

“My first concern is public safety through social distancing but open to figuring out letting people enjoy the park,” Jones sent to park supporters.

He continued, “I’ve also been watching how other sites are being impacted of which many seem to either be closed or open and too crowded. For these reasons and today’s CDC announcement I think it is inevitable that the park remains closed through April.”

Across the county on Monument Road, county official made plans to see that Eagle’s Rest Park, a small hiking area with great views, also closed after more than 100, maybe even 200 people were there last weekend. The park announced on social media it’s closure early this week.

Commissioner Rob Jones, speaking Monday morning to county staff, said he’d had several calls regarding the crowd there.

Jones said a challenge to closing that park is that it was mostly people from other areas there last weekend. Signage at the park and at the intersection of Monument Road is planned.

Several people pointed out that the parking area along Long Swamp Creek was crowded with trout fisherman, as was the parking area for the hiking trails on Burnt Mountain Road.

County Parks remain open

Brian Jones, the director of Pickens Parks and Recreation, said all their buildings were closed, but their fields, playgrounds and walking paths are open.

He said previously they are monitoring the usage at the outdoor amenities and spraying disinfectant regularly.