Camping prohibited along shore of river below dam

Last fall, officials with the Allegheny National Forest said a stretch of Forest Service land along Hemlock Road would be closed to camping.

It’s now official.

The ANF issued a statement on Thursday indicating that “Forest Supervisor Erin Connelly signed a Forest Order on March 24, 2014, restricting overnight camping and campfires along the riverbank of the Allegheny River. The area to be closed to camping and fires is a narrow strip of land wedged between… Hemlock Road and the Allegheny River approximately 7 acres in size just below the Kinzua Dam.”

That strip of land has been used for camping and campfires in the past.

In a statement from the ANF last fall, the area “is frequently used for daytime activities and camping. The area is not very large and is not able to accommodate the amount of use it’s getting without resource damage occurring.”

Thursday’s statement outlined that damage.

“The restriction is necessary due to continuous years of camping and campfire use resulting in damage to vegetation and soil compaction and increased risk of significant erosion directly into the Allegheny River. Deposition of excessive amounts of human waste in this area directly adjacent to the Allegheny also poses a threat to water quality.”

The closure order will be in effect “until further notice. These restrictions are necessary for public safety and to protect National Forest property,” according to the statement.

AND officials indicated that hiking, fishing and all other legal river access use is still permitted in the area.