Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

June 20, 2014

Group unhappy with Houchin Ferry closing

GLASGOW — Mammoth Cave National Park officials say the closing of Houchin Ferry is due to a lack of funding, but citizens who want the ferry to be operational aren’t buying that explanation.

Houchin Ferry is one of two ferries in the national park. It didn’t have as high of a daily traffic volume as the Green River Ferry, so park officials decided to close it, according to Vickie Carson, public information officer for MCNP.

“It has to due with funding,” Carson said, adding that the national park has scaled back in several areas due to budgetary issues, including the amount of mowing performed inside park. “Houchin Ferry is one of those things. It doesn’t serve many people.”

About 30 people use Houchin Ferry daily, compared to nearly 300 people at the Green River Ferry, she said.

“We do have the campground open this year and the picnic area open this year, but just not the ferry,” Carson said. “We are doing the best we can with what we have. We are trying to do the things that serve the most people and Houchin Ferry just doesn’t serve many people.”

Tommy Bolton, who represents the group that wants the ferry to be open, says the national park is using the federal sequester as an excuse.

“It’s obvious that the park is doing things to shut down other things and one of them is the ferry,” he said. “If they can get that one closed, they will close the next one.”

He also claims the national park is not abiding by a deed filed in 1945 when the National Park Service condemned county roads in the area, making them part of Mammoth Cave National Park.

“The deed to that road says it must stay open to the usual use of the public,” Bolton said.

Without the ferry in operation, the road leading to the ferry is essentially closed, he said.

Houchin Ferry has been closed to traffic for two years. Before it was closed, its hours of operation were limited to 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

Bolton says if it had been accessible to motorists from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., more people would have used it.  

“They don’t want a lot of traffic through there,” he said. “That’s their goal.”

Bolton met this past week with staff members of U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, both Kentucky Republicans.

“They are trying to find out what is going on and trying to educate themselves,” Bolton said. “I think they are getting a lot of phone calls and they are perking up to what is going on.”

Bolton has yet to get an answer from federal officials regarding the closing of the ferry.

“We have got their attention and they are working on this and trying to solve this with the park service,” he said.

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