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Red River Gorge officials to hold public planning meeting to address influx of new visitors

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Posted at 1:37 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 13:37:34-04

WINCHESTER, Ky. (LEX 18) — An increase in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing Red River Gorge officials to adopt new policies needed to ensure all visitors have a safe and enjoyable time while spending time in Daniel Boone National Forest.

The last public planning process resulted in the 2008 Limits and Acceptable Change. The document guides management in the Red River Gorge by describing an acceptable future condition for the Gorge and creating a series of management actions to steer the area toward the future vision.

The document also established "thresholds for change," which were recently surpassed as visitors have sought safe, outdoor activities during the pandemic. Officials said that increase has triggered additional collaborative problem-solving.

"The popularity of recreation in this region has grown much faster than our agency anticipated and, with that growth, comes tremendous opportunity and significant challenges," said Jon Kazmierski, Cumberland District ranger. "The goal of this new round of planning is to examine the management tools that are available and apply them in a way that ensures the public's safety and enjoyment of their national forest while protecting the character and resources of the Red River Gorge that draw people to the area and make it so unique."

One aspect of this planning process will be to comply with congressional direction to establish a Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP) for the Wild and Scenic Red River. The Red River CRMP will address the current status of river resources, outline goals and desired conditions, determine user capacities, and create a monitoring strategy and plan forward.

The public is invited to join the USDA Forest Service at a virtual public meeting from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 to discuss these upcoming management actions.

Meeting information as well as more details about this process are available here and here.