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Ask The Times: Free permit needed to dump trees in Lanier
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If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following questions were submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

In your article about disposal of Christmas trees you mentioned that trees placed in lakes maker a good habitat for fish. Does that mean I can take my untrimmed tree down to Lake Lanier and toss it in? I know fish love to hide in the midst of underwater debris, but I would have thought the Army Corps of Engineers would get a bit upset if a lot of people just tossed their trees into the lake.

It turns out you are right; people shouldn’t just toss trees into the lake, but the Army Corps of Engineers does allow it with a free permit.

Park Ranger Craig Sowers said people can contact him to get a permit to put a “fish attractor” into the lake, which could be a Christmas tree or other item.

A map is required, which shows the location where the object will be placed, along with details about depth and materials. The corps reviews the info for safety.

“We don’t want people sinking objects that could become a boating hazard if the lake drops,” Sowers said.

Trees, bamboo and other brush are most commonly placed as fish attractors, though PVC and wood pallets have also been used.

“I have tried to get away from PVC because some could view it as trash and depending on the placement and configuration it could be a boating/swimming hazard,” Sowers said.

PVC can last much longer and its shape can be configured in many ways, though, Sowers said. And commercially available fish attractors are also made from PVC.

Sowers said he issued 10 permits in the past year, though each permit could be for multiple fish attractors.

“I know that a lot are installed without a permit,” he added. “We have done some outreach in the past few years to inform the public that a permit is required, but there will always be a few that don’t get the permit.”

Sowers also said he has heard people will cut down trees on corps property to construct a fish attractor, but cutting any vegetation from corps property is not permitted.

Those who apply for a fish attractor permit must install it themselves. The corps has planned large fish attractor projects in the past and allowed people to drop off Christmas trees, but that’s not planned this year, Sowers said.

For a permit or more information, Sowers can be contacted at 770-945-9531.

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