Mortimer Campground Reopens with Improvements to Thorps Creek
NEBO, NC (April 1, 2021) — Mortimer Campground on the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest reopens today, April 1, 2021. The Campground, located adjacent to the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River in Caldwell County, has been closed since May 2020 for bridge construction and stream restoration work.
The new bridge over Thorps Creek replaces a low-water ford connecting the front and back loops of the campground, which was a barrier to the movement of fish and a recurring public safety hazard during food events. In partnership with the US Forest Service, Trout Unlimited provided critical fundraising support and oversight of the project. TAG Contracting, a local contractor from Old Fort, NC constructed the bridge. The bridge project was funded through a partnership involving the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina Land and Water Fund and Trout Unlimited.
The previous low-water ford at Mortimer Campground. Photo Credit: USFS Photo
“The Mortimer Bridge project was first identified in 2010, but the project was shelved until momentum was brought to the Wilson Creek area as a part of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act,” said Nick Larson, Grandfather District Range. “It is through the strong partnerships with Trout Unlimited and other local partners that we are able to finally implement these critical improvements to trout habitat and visitor safety.”
In 2019 as a part of the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Grandfather District formed a formal partnership with Trout Unlimited to assess and improve key sites in Wilson Creek. As a part of a watershed assessment project, the ford was prioritized by Trout Unlimited Community Science Program Volunteers as a severe barrier to fish passage. Removing it re-connects approximately 1,800 feet of stream habitat for wild trout. Within days of its demolition, there were reported sightings of 15-inch rainbow trout in pools in the upper sections of the creek. The bridge project also reduces deferred maintenance requirements of the US Forest Service who will no longer have to remove blockages that backed up behind the ford, saving thousands of dollars annually.
The Mortimer Bridge Project was constructed as part of a broader Thorps Creek stream rehabilitation effort that also included re-grading streambanks and installing in-stream log vanes to reduce bank erosion and provide better habitat in the lower sections and offer shade to help keep these waters cold. North State Environmental of Winston Salem, NC performed the stream rehabilitation working in close consultation with US Forest Service staff and Trout Unlimited.
The Grandfather District is excited to welcome campers back to Mortimer this season. This year will also bring changes to the reservation system for the campground. Five of the 17 campsites will be available for reservations online at Recreation.gov beginning April 15th. The remaining 12 sites will remain available on a first-come first-serve basis. Book online for the 2021 season now at www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/10046915.
(Click on map below for a larger image)
Here are a few photos of the new bridge in the Mortimer Campground…
Mortimer Campground Reopens With Improvements To…