Sign at a gate at Stillhouse Hollow Lake Tuesday. (Photo by Rachel Cox)
WACO (October 2, 2013)—Campers were packing up their motor homes and travel trailers and pulling out Wednesday as the Fort Worth District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepared to close down all of its campgrounds and day-use parks in Central Texas because of the federal government shutdown.
Locally, the closures involve campgrounds and parks operated by the Corps of Engineers at Aquilla Lake, Lake Belton, Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Lake Waco and Lake Whitney.
The Corps is no longer accepting reservations or allowing new visitors into the facilities and those already on site had until 8 p.m. Wednesday to pull out.
Daphne Tenant of China Spring has been staying at area lake parks since her husband died three weeks ago “trying to get back acquainted with the living population.”
As she left Midway Park Wednesday, she clearly wasn’t happy with the decision to close the parks and campgrounds.
“Now I’ve got stress again,” she said.
“I’ve got to go home and I don’ want to face it,” she said, “but I don’t have a choice.”
Peggy Batson, who lives at the nearby Ridgecrest Assisted Living Center regularly walks in the park and was surprised to learn the gates were being closed.
“I think it's terrible and it's going to hurt a lot of people, especially all the trailer people,” she said.
The closure was a first for Corps of Engineers spokesman Tim Horn, who said reaction from the displaced campers has been mixed.
“As far as what I've heard, some folks are understanding, some folks are naturally upset a little bit about it."
“I do not recall this happening in my certainly not in my recent history,” he said.
More than 100 employees of the Corps will be furloughed because of the shutdown, but Horn said a few will remain on the job to provide security and “make sure nothing gets torn up.”
Residents who have made reservations for sites may cancel them for a full refund and campers forced to leave will receive refunds for the unused portion of their payments.
To request a refund call the Corps’ customer service line at (888) 448-1474.
Some facilities at Central Texas lakes were already closed before the shutdown because of low water levels.
List Of Park Closures
(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
AQUILLA LAKE - DAIRY HILL RAMP
AQUILLA LAKE - HACKBERRY CREEK ACCESS AREA
AQUILLA LAKE - OLD SCHOOL RAMP
AQUILLA LAKE - OUTLET WORKS AND FISHING PLATFORM
AQUILLA LAKE - VISITOR'S OVERLOOK
BELTON LAKE - ARROWHEAD POINT
BELTON LAKE - BELTON LAKEVIEW
BELTON LAKE - CEDAR RIDGE
BELTON LAKE - LIVE OAK RIDGE PARK
BELTON LAKE - MCGREGOR
BELTON LAKE - MILLER SPRINGS PARK
BELTON LAKE - OVERLOOK
BELTON LAKE - OWL CREEK
BELTON LAKE - ROGERS
BELTON LAKE - SPARTA VALLEY
BELTON LAKE - TEMPLE'S LAKE PARK
BELTON LAKE - WESTCLIFF PARK
BELTON LAKE - WINKLER PARK
STILLHOUSE HOLLOW DAM AND LAKE - CEDAR GAP PARK
STILLHOUSE HOLLOW DAM AND LAKE - DANA PEAK PARK
STILLHOUSE HOLLOW DAM AND LAKE - RIVERS BEND PARK
STILLHOUSE HOLLOW DAM AND LAKE - STILLHOUSE PARK
STILLHOUSE HOLLOW DAM AND LAKE - UNION GROVE PARK
WACO LAKE AIRPORT BEACH & DAY USE
WACO LAKE AIRPORT PARK
WACO LAKE BOSQUE PARK
WACO LAKE FLATROCK ACCESS
WACO LAKE KOEHNE PARK
WACO LAKE LACY POINT ACCESS AREA
WACO LAKE MIDWAY PARK
WACO LAKE REYNOLDS CREEK PARK
WACO LAKE SPEEGLEVILLE CAMPGROUND
WACO LAKE TWIN BRIDGES DAY USE AREA
WHITNEY LAKE CEDRON CREEK
WHITNEY LAKE KIMBALL BEND
WHITNEY LAKE LOFERS BEND
WHITNEY LAKE LOFERS EAST
WHITNEY LAKE LOFERS WEST
WHITNEY LAKE MCCOWN VALLEY
WHITNEY LAKE PLOWMAN CREEK
WHITNEY LAKE RIVERSIDE
WHITNEY LAKE SOLDIERS BLUFF
WHITNEY LAKE STEELE CREEK PARK
WHITNEY LAKE WALLING BEND PARK