11 other counties join with Rabun in asking for state parks to be closed

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Georgia State Parks

CLAYTON—Rabun County Board of Commissioners Chairman Greg James on Monday joined with 11 other county commission chairmen in signing a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp asking him to close all state parks during the COVID-19 health emergency.

“We are the only county in Georgia with three state parks,” James said in an interview Tuesday. “I’m not sure any of the other counties has more than one state park. It’s driving more people to us. The hardship that works on our limited resources is incredible.”

James pointed out that North Carolina, South Carolina and nearby Tennessee have all closed their state parks, which makes Rabun County parks even more appealing to those confined in their homes for the past few weeks.

“There is nothing we take more seriously than the health and welfare of our citizens,” James said. “Right now, our focus is on the needs of Rabun County.” “On behalf of the many citizens who live in North Georgia who entrust us as County Commissioners to represent their interests, we respectfully ask you to close all of the state parks located in our area immediately,” the letter to Gov. Kemp said.

It’s also signed by the county commission heads from Habersham, Towns, White, Franklin, Gilmer, Dade, Lumpkin, Fannin, Stephens, Union and Banks counties.

“Many county commissioners in our area are actively discouraging any and all non-residents from visiting our area until the pandemic has resolved itself,” the letter states. “The United States Forest Service has taken steps to discourage the influx of people by closing down all of its “sited” campgrounds, but the continued operation of the state parks is stressing our community’s resources in a substantial manner.”