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Governor, interior secretary to see areas affected by drought
Perdue will also attend ribbon-cutting of Laurel Park boat ramp
Ken Salazer
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ken Salazar will meet with Gov. Sonny Perdue today to tour and discuss areas previously affected by drought.

The two will take a helicopter tour of the Buford Dam, Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River.

Frank Quimby, a spokesman for Salazar, said they will discuss water issues and water availability.

"The secretary, who’s familiarizing himself with the array of natural resource issues he’ll be working with state and local leaders on, I believe, wants to visit and talk with the governor and get his ideas and thoughts on the water resource issues in the Southeast and in Georgia particularly," Quimby said.

Lake Lanier was at 1,065.85 feet above sea level at 10 a.m. Wednesday. At full pool, the lake is at 1,071.

The lake dropped to its lowest level ever, 1,050.79 feet, on Dec. 26, 2007.

Georgia now is mostly out of the drought and, as of Saturday, the area had received 25 inches of rain for the year, an inch more than the normal 24.

Part or all of 10 Northeast Georgia counties, including the northern end of Hall, are considered "abnormally dry," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is updated every Thursday.

One year ago, by comparison, the state ranged from abnormally dry to extreme drought. Only 35 percent of Georgia had normal rainfall amounts.

Salazar formerly served as a Colorado senator and was confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 20 as the country’s 50th Interior secretary.

While in Georgia, Salazar also will visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.

Following his meeting with Salazar, Perdue will attend the 3:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony for the boat ramp at Laurel Park, where he will share the results of their meeting with the public.

Laurel Park is one of 10 mega-ramp sites on a bass fishing trail to lure large fishing tournaments to the state. The Go Fish program is designed to promote and enhance boating and fishing tourism throughout the state as an economic engine. Fishing contributes approximately $1.5 billion to Georgia’s economy each year.

Many hope that Lake Lanier’s rising water level will draw more fishing tournaments to the area.