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Corps working to improve parks
Old Federal campground work still under way
Roberto Guzman moves a load of dirt while working on improvements at the Old Federal Park campground Tuesday. - photo by Tom Reed

Seven tent sites are expected to reopen at the popular Old Federal Park campground off Lake Lanier this month, but 18 remaining sites won't be operational until next camping season.

That's according to Chief Ranger Chris Arthur of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which spent the off-season renovating and fixing up parks around the lake.

"Our maintenance crew was spread thin and had too many other projects going on in the winter," Arthur said. "Lots of work was completed in Bald Ridge and Bolding Mill (parks)."

Tent sites at Old Federal, which is off Jim Crow Road in West Hall, were "in need of some major repair," he added. "When complete, we will have some fantastic tent sites in that campground."

Also, the campground has a new playground.

New playgrounds and restrooms and improved camping sites were just a few of the improvements the corps completed at parks around Lake Lanier this year.

In addition to Old Federal, the corps has worked at Van Pugh South, Duckett Mill, Bald Ridge, Bolding Mill and Sawnee campgrounds, and West Bank Park and Two Mile Creek Park day-use areas.

Some of the changes have been fairly involved, such as at Van Pugh South, a former day-use park converted to a campground, at the end of Gaines Ferry Road in Hall County.

The corps has added power and water to 36 sites, removed wooden crossties at 18 tent sites and poured concrete borders around them, and upgraded sites to meet federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association, a Gainesville-based advocacy group, said in April she planned to meet with park rangers and "discuss opportunities for the (association) to get involved or help out with park projects."

Nothing specific on lake improvements came from that meeting.

"We have been very focused on improving and expanding Shore Sweep (annual clean-up) and have been working closely with the corps on that," Cloud said.

As for projected campground visitation this summer, it's always hard to predict numbers, officials said.

Campground visitation rose to 44,376 in 2010 from 43,224 in 2009, and the overall number of lake visitors climbed to 7.1 million in 2010 from nearly 6.9 million in 2009, Arthur said.


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