US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District Website

Corps campgrounds to shut down due to COVID-19

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
Published March 20, 2020
St. Lucie South Camping Area

St. Lucie South Camping Area

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District announces that there will be an orderly shutdown of the Corps Campgrounds on the Okeechobee Waterway, including the Ortona South, St. Lucie South and W.P. Franklin North Campgrounds.

As America confronts the challenges of COVID-19, protecting the health and safety of the recreating public, volunteers and our government personnel is our highest priority. To further protect against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed campgrounds will immediately begin an orderly shutdown. Individuals with paid reservations will be contacted by email and full refunds will automatically be processed by Recreation.gov with no cancellation fees. Individuals should not attempt to contact Recreation.gov nor request a refund or a cancellation fee will be charged. In addition, visitor centers, beaches, special events, USACE-sponsored events such as shore sweeps, interpretive programs, kids to parks, earth day events, public meetings and other public gatherings have been closed and/or put on hold until further notice. USACE is maintaining access to our projects by keeping some day use facilities and lake access areas open such as boat launches, picnic areas, fishing piers, and viewing areas; however, these areas are subject to evolving conditions and localized situations may cause decisions that close specific areas. For more information on the closures of USACE recreation areas, we ask that you contact the USACE lake or river project before your visit. A complete list of recreation areas is available at www.CorpsLakes.us. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this unprecedented time.

The Corps of Engineers has a plan in place for continuity of operations during a pandemic crisis and are prepared to respond accordingly. While mission-essential functions such as navigation across the Okeechobee Waterway is expected to continue uninterrupted, a number of Corps activities executed by the Jacksonville District will experience temporary adjustments in schedules and operations due to COVID-19:

Camping and Recreation

There will be an orderly shutdown of the Corps Campgrounds on the Okeechobee Waterway, including the Ortona South, St. Lucie South and W.P. Franklin North Campgrounds.

The Corps is not currently accepting any new reservations or walk-ins at the campgrounds.

Campers arriving on reservations through Sunday March 22 may stay until the end of their reservation without extension.

All other reservations from March 23 through May 1 will be cancelled.

Access to some day use facilities associated with campgrounds and picnic shelters may be limited. Recreational users are encouraged to closely monitor the situation for changes as conditions continue to evolve.

All Corps Visitor Centers in south Florida are closed until further notice, including all tours and interpretive programs.

Though many sections of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST) remain temporarily closed through 2022 due to ongoing Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation construction, including culvert replacement and cutoff wall construction, the public may still access some areas of the trail for recreational purposes. When hiking on the LOST, please observe all signage and do not enter construction areas, and maintain social distancing from other hikers for your safety. An updated map of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail construction closures and estimated dates for reopening is available at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOST.

Regulatory Permitting

All Jacksonville District Regulatory Offices are currently closed to walk-in visitors, for the health and safety of Corps staff and the public, until further notice. Members of the public requiring assistance with Regulatory permitting questions may contact their local Regulatory Office at the following locations:  https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Office-Locations/ or call the general number for the Regulatory Division at 904-232-1177. If additional assistance is needed, you may contact the Jacksonville District Corporate Communications Office at 904-232-2568 PublicMail.CESAJ-CC@usace.army.mil.

Navigation

For boaters, normal operations continue for the navigation locks on the Okeechobee Waterway. Locks on the Okeechobee Waterway remain open from 7a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Sunday. Last lock-through starts at 4:30 p.m. each day. The Canaveral Lock is closed for ongoing repairs. Please continue to monitor Notices to Navigation at: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/NTN/, where you may also sign up to receive Notices to Navigation Interests.

The Jacksonville District activated its emergency operations center (EOC). This action allows district staff to devote added attention to the response actions that might be necessary as COVID-19 causes impacts to Corps operations in Florida.

More information on Jacksonville District COVID-19 response actions can be found at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Coronavirus/.


Contact
Erica Skolte
561-801-5734 (cell)
Erica.A.Skolte@usace.army.mil

Release no. 20-023