Emergency closure order temporarily prohibits access in Nantahala River in Gorge

Franklin, NC - August 29, 2019- Due to hazardous conditions in the Nantahala Gorge from multiple landslides, the U.S. Forest Service is issuing an Emergency Closure Order temporarily prohibiting access to the Nantahala River from National Forest land between Beechertown Launch Ramp and the Silvermine Take-out Ramp. This closure also applies to Ferebee Memorial Park. At this time we anticipate reopening the river in less than two weeks, pending river assessments.

Debris removal operations are occurring at multiple sites along the Nantahala River. Operations include the use of large trucks and heavy machinery. There will be areas of Highway 19/74 within the gorge that are reduced to one lane of traffic.

It is difficult to pin down an exact opening date at this point because rivers are dynamic and the clean up is complex. Note that the official Emergency Area Closure Order states: This order is effective 08/28/2019 through 08/28/2021 unless rescinded earlier by the Forest Supervisor. However, we expect the river to be open in less than two weeks, but the standard language in this kind of closure order allows for two years specifying that it can be rescinded earlier as expected in this incident.

Visitors should avoid these areas to ensure their own safety and that of crews assessing and clearing debris. Follow the National Forests in North Carolina on Facebook (www.facebook.com/nfsnc) or Twitter (twitter.com/NFsNCarolina) for updates and photos.

US 19/74 had been closed due to landslides from Saturday evening (August 24, 2019) until Monday (August 26) at 8 pm. Crews from the North Carolina Department of Transportation worked around the clock to clear debris and make repairs. The road has reopened but expect delays due to the continued river clean up operations.

See closure order (PDF) and map