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12 North Georgia county commissions ask Gov. Kemp to close state parks
Smithgall Woods State Park
A river flows through Smithgall Woods State Park in White County in March 2019. - photo by Shannon Casas

Commissioners from 12 North Georgia counties signed a letter sent to Gov. Brian Kemp asking him to close state parks in the area during the statewide shelter-in-place order.

The letter dated April 6 was signed by commissioners from Habersham, Towns, Rabun, White, Franklin, Gilmer, Dade, Lumpkin, Fannin, Stephens, Union and Banks counties.

The shelter-in-place order started Friday, April 3, and expires on April 13.

“While we are blessed to live in such a beautiful and abundant area of Georgia that hosts so many wonderful state parks, our constituents are highly concerned about the increased traffic to our area during the statewide shelter in place order. A significant portion of this increased traffic is coming from COVID-19 hot spots such as Atlanta or from areas outside our state. During normal times, we are very thankful for the many Georgians and other tourists who visit and explore our area and frequent our state parks,” according to the letter.

The letter stated the commissioners believe the influx of tourists may think the rural nature of North Georgia makes it a “safe haven.”

“To the contrary, the influx of people into our communities has had a staggering detrimental effect on our resources. Our communities simply do not have enough hospital beds or medical personnel to care for the inflated population. Similarly, there is not enough food, dry goods, fuel and other supplies to adequately provide for the numbers we are experiencing.”

The letter stated county commissioners around North Georgia are trying to discourage nonresidents from visiting during the pandemic.

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