- Neon's Glow – The Blog of John DeArmond - http://www.johndearmond.com -

Requiem for a forest.

Dateline: Tellico Plains, TN, Cherokee National Forest

I’m sitting here in deep shock.

A little while ago I returned from a drive up to State Line and back (about 5 miles to the NC border where there used to be a nice campground.) My first trip up this year. I can’t believe what I’ve just seen.

The Forest Service (sic) has utterly destroyed the area between Green Cove (where I live) and the state line. They’ve bulldozed all the ad-hoc camping spots that have been here for a hundred years, curbed and graveled them (eliminating most of the spots in the process) and made “camping” spots, all for $20 a day. No, that’s not a mis-print. More than an RV park charges but with NO amenities.

As recently as a couple of years ago, Tellico was a place to go to get away from it all. Especially developed areas. This place was pretty much as it had been left when the CCC [1] finished with their work during the Depression and logging ended in the 70s. Weekends were a joy. There was multi-purpose recreation – families pitching tents anywhere they could find a flat spot, others fishing, others riding their dirt bikes and still others hiking and simply enjoying nature. Groups of camping friends in RVs parking on other flat spots that had evolved over the years strictly from actual use.

That’s all gone now. The area doesn’t look much different than any other exurban commercial RV park. If I want to go somewhere, coast to a stop in my little rig and flatspot camp, now I’ll have to leave the Tellico mountains. This page [2]on Tellico camping is now mostly a memorial to what used to be.

I’m going back tomorrow with a camera and photograph the destruction. Hopefully I’ll have a new web page up by dark. I’m soooo thankful that I spent some time a couple years ago photographing the area for my Tellico web page.

For the first time in a long time words are failing me. I have that same sick, hollow feeling in my chest that I did when I got the call telling me that Dad had died. This place survived the war for Southern Independence. It survived being clear-cut for timber at the turn of the last century. It’s survived tornadoes and the blizzard of ’93. It survived the CCC. But it’s not going to survive the assault of the forest dis-service and their bulldozers and their greed. In a small way, I think I know how the survivors of Katrina felt. And how my ancestors who fought in the Great War for Southern Independence felt.

If there is any more stark illustration of government run amok, I can’t think of it. It’s rapidly approaching the time to lock and load.