Sawmill Campground (Pennsylvania) has been mandated to halt its operations. This directive, issued by the Cumberland Valley Township Supervisors, is a result of multiple infrastructural and regulatory issues, including a sewer system that failed its dye test, an unverified well casing, and an absent land use permit for the owner’s dwelling.
As per a Bedford Gazette report, Christopher Plunkett, the owner of Sawmill Campground, finds himself at the heart of this controversy.
While the injunction demands the resolution of the aforementioned problems, Plunkett believes the root of these challenges is more personal. He speculates that his refusal to grant hunting permissions on his property led to these retaliatory measures. However, the legal perspective paints a different picture. Judge Travis Livengood opined that the situation was “tailor-made for an injunction,” emphasizing the need for adherence to the law.
The campground’s history traces back to its inception in 2016. Since then, it has been a haven for those seeking a connection with nature. However, the recent legal battles have cast a shadow over its reputation. Plunkett’s attorney, Lisa Whisler, argued that the issues have persisted since the campground’s establishment, questioning the sudden urgency for an injunction. She further highlighted the potential harm to the Plunkett family, who might be rendered homeless due to the decision.
Bedford County provides a rich selection of attractions for those who revel in the great outdoors. Two notable destinations for nature enthusiasts include Blue Knob State Park and Shawnee State Park.
Often referred to as the “Big Mountain” park, Blue Knob State Park is a year-round wilderness adventure that spans over 5,600 acres of lush woodland. The park boasts an extensive hiking trail system, offering 17 miles of trails that weave through varied timber types, cross cool streams, and occasionally pass by pioneer homesteads gradually being reclaimed by nature. Situated just over half an hour away from Sawmill Campground, it provides a nearby escape into the wilderness.
Known as the “Lake Park”, Shawnee State Park is conveniently located along Route 30 near Schellsburg and encompasses 3,983 acres, including a 451-acre lake. Visitors can enjoy amenities such as picnic tables and fire rings, while non-powered and electric boats (with a permit or registration) are permitted on the lake, with rentals available. The park also features a 12-mile hiking and biking system, which can also be utilized for cross-country skiing, making it a versatile outdoor destination just an hour away from the campground.
The recent events at Sawmill Campground underscore the importance of regulations in ensuring the safety and well-being of both the environment and the public. While the campground’s closure might be a setback for many, it serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between nature and human intervention. Campgrounds, especially in ecologically sensitive areas like Cumberland Valley, must adhere to strict guidelines to prevent environmental degradation.
Plunkett has been seeking solutions, from adding holding tanks to scheduling drilling for a new well. However, the challenges persist. The sewage issue, identified in November 2022, remains a significant concern, with the campground housing more campers than permitted. This overcapacity poses environmental risks, emphasizing the need for immediate remedial measures.
The Sawmill Campground saga is a reflection of the broader challenges faced by campgrounds across the region. While the allure of Cumberland Valley remains undiminished, it is imperative for campground owners and authorities to work collaboratively. Ensuring adherence to regulations, while providing nature enthusiasts with memorable experiences, should be the collective goal.
Editor’s Note: The article has been updated to correct the information on the outdoor attractions near Sawmill Campground in Bedford, Pennsylvania, and to remove any non-objective commentary about the owner’s efforts.