Oneida, Tennessee: The National Park Service is announcing the start of a contaminated mine drainage remediation project scheduled to begin January 6, 2017. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area contains over 100 abandoned mine openings which are part of historic coal operations. Abandoned mines produced waste rock, open portals and, in some cases, contaminated mine drainage, which are human safety and environmental hazards. Some sites contain unique cultural and natural resources. Remediation of contaminated mine drainage sites will help improve water quality and aquatic habitat in the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.
To ensure visitor safety and resource protection, temporary trail closures in the Blue Heron area of the Big South Fork will start in January and be in place until approximately April 2017. Construction equipment will be staged in the Blue Heron area starting in the third week of December.
The following trails will be temporarily closed starting January 6, 2017:
• Blue Heron Loop Hiking Trail to the Blue Heron mining community closed at intersection with the Laurel Branch Horse Trail.
• Laurel Branch Horse Trail to the Blue Heron mining community closed at Laurel Branch.
• Big South Fork River Horse Trail ford at the Blue Heron mining community closed on the west side of the river.
The hiking trail to Devil’s Jump rapids and the canoe launch ramp at the Blue Heron mining community will remain open to hikers, fisherman and those putting in, or taking out from the river. Signs will be posted at trailheads to inform hikers and horseback riders of the closures. The park asks all visitors to be prepared to plan your activities in the park accordingly.
For additional information, please contact Tom Blount, Chief of Resource Management, at (423) 569-9778.