New Max Patch restrictions include ban on camping, fires
Following an explosion of use and impact at Max Patch, the U.S. Forest Service is prohibiting camping and fires on the iconic site, among other new restrictions now in effect.
From now on, the area around Max Patch will close an hour after sundown and reopen an hour before sunrise, with visitors prohibited in the area overnight. Group size will be limited to 10 people, and drones and fireworks are not allowed. No aircraft may land, drop or pick up anything in the area.
Dogs and other animals must be on a leash 6 feet long or shorter, or else in a crate or cage. Horses and other pack animals may not be ridden, hitched, tethered or hobbled in the area.
Visitors must stay on designated trails, and bikes are allowed only on roads.
The restrictions are designed to reduce impacts to natural resources and to protect public health and safety.
“We’ve been working with partners to achieve sustainable recreation at Max Patch because of the impacts due to a significant increase in visitors over the past decade,” said Appalachian District Ranger Jen Barnhart. “Unfortunately, the level of use is causing a public safety hazard as well as serious damage to wildlife habitat.”
The restrictions will remain in place for two years. During that time, the Forest Service will monitor visitor use and impacts. Past efforts, including visitor education and engineering controls such as barriers and fencing, have not been enough to address the challenges the area faces. A visitor use monitoring group consisting of local partners, the Forest Service and local community members has helped to develop solutions and will also help to educate visitors on the new restrictions.
A full text of the closure order is online here.
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I'm so grateful - it was being destroyed and abused, not to mention disrespected.