MORTIMER — More signage, marked-off parking spaces and stepped-up enforcement are some of the remedies to alleviate overcrowding concerns in the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River region in northwest Caldwell County, according to county, state and federal officials who met in August.
“We listened to concerns and came together to find solutions so citizens can continue to enjoy the beauty of Wilson Creek while still being respectful of our natural resources,” explained Caldwell County Commissioner Donnie Potter in a Aug. 27 statement.
According to Caldwell County Public Information Officer Paige Counts, the Wilson Creek area is becoming popular for recreation activities, including kayking, fly fishing, hiking and picnics for families and groups of all ages.
On nice days, cars have parked on the side of the road, blocking access for vehicles. While the Wilson Creek area is located in the Pisgah National Forest, many residents live in the area, which includes the Mortimer, Collettsville, Globe and Gragg neighborhoods.
“We need the roads clear for emergency vehicles and the residents who live in that area,” Counts said.
According to Counts, the area around the Wilson Creek Visitor Center has 197 parking spaces, and over Labor Day weekend, more than 400 cars were counted in the area.
The August meeting included U.S. Congressman Mark Meadows’ staff, Potter, representatives from the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department, N.C. Department of Transportation, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, U.S. Forestry Service and Caldwell County administration.
The measures implemented include making off parking spaces, adding more “no parking” signs, continued towing of illegally parked vehicles and increased law enforcement presence, adding portable toilets and limiting cars to designated parking areas only on weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day, according to the Aug. 27 statement.
“We hope these steps will make Wilson Creek alleviate concerns and make Wilson Creek a place everyone can enjoy,” Potter stated.
The Wilson Creek Visitor Center is located at 7805 Brown Mountain Beach Road, Collettsville. The center gives information on the Wilson Creek gorge area and has a photograph and artifact collection that tells the history of the area, according to its website. The center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Nov. 30 and can be reached at (828) 759-0005.