Although no campers were injured at the time, forest officials felt the area needed to be cleared and evaluated for safety concerns. The order to close the site was issued on Tuesday.
“We still haven’t cleaned up all of the brush that is everywhere,“ said Gloria Nielsen, district ranger for Talladega National Forest’s Talladega District.
The 17-acre site includes a campground, Forest Service Road 646 and the Lake Shore, Silent and Skyway hiking trails. Park guests come to the site mainly to enjoy fishing, hiking, camping and picnicking. Camping fees are $8 per night and $3 per vehicle for day use.
Nielsen said the main safety concern is damage to campground facilities and the hiking trails that wrap around the lake area.
“There are picnic tables knocked over everywhere and land flooding across several of the trails,” Nielsen said.
The Forest Service is bringing in an assessment team to survey the damage sometime next week. Nielsen hopes that evaluation and repairs will be done before the planned reopening date of Sept. 30.
“That is our worst-case scenario,” Nielsen said. “Hopefully, we will be able to be up and running long before that.”
While evaluation and repairs are conducted, the U.S. Forest Service will direct visitors to surrounding parks, trails, and campgrounds. Not far from Lake Chinnabee Recreation Area is Cheaha State Park, which boasts Alabama’s highest point. Additional areas that have not been flooded include Tuskegee, Bankhead and Conecuh national forests, which offer hiking, camping and horseback riding.
Prior to planning a park excursion, residents are asked to visit The National Forests in Alabama’s website (www.fs.usda.gov/alabama), which contains a “Know Before You Go” section with safety and weather alerts.