Hell Hole Campground on the Chauga River in the Andrew Pickens Ranger District has been living up to its name lately. A faulty toilet has led to human waste being left inside the building where the toilet is located and across the campground.
District Ranger Mike Crane said the situation is not only unpleasant, but poses a health risk to anyone who uses the river at or downstream from the campground.
"As much as I hate to close a campground, visitor safety is our priority," Crane said.
The Forest Service has blocked off an access road leading to the campground.
Ranger Randy McCoy said the closure will not affect plans for trout stocking, and people will still be allowed day access to Hell Hole; they just will not be allowed to camp overnight.
The Forest Service is calling the closure temporary, but there are no immediate plans for reopening the campground.
Fishing guide Marcus Leach of the Chattooga River Fly Shop was disappointed by the closing but understands the problem
"The situation at Hell Hole is upsetting, but many of the public-access points in Oconee County are in need of improvement, especially accesses that are key trout-stocking points," said Leach, a member of the Chattooga River chapter of Trout Unlimited. "We do a lot volunteer work trying to keep accesses and rivers clean, but there just aren't enough volunteers to take care of everything. This is unfortunate because some of the areas that are being abused are also some of the most beautiful areas in South Carolina.
"The key thing to take away from all of this is that, as sportsman, we should all try to communicate and highlight to others the outstanding natural resources we have available in our area. The more people that have a vested interest in our recreation areas the better these places can be preserved for future generations."