The Lake Lanier Association and Army Corps of Engineers sponsored a virtual town hall meeting Thursday, Jan. 21. Here are a few takeaways from the event:
No marina coming to Bolding Mill Campground
“One of the proposed management actions in our master plan, based on the recreational carrying capacity study we did, is we will limit water access,” said Tim Rainey, the Corps operations project manager for Lake Lanier. “So, there won’t be a marina at Bolding Mill.”
The Bolding Mill proposal was rolled out by the Corps in 2014 as possibly the first new marina on the lake in 30 years and what would have been the first marina in the Chestatee River arm of Lanier.
Studies found “we are crowded,” Rainey said. “The current marinas have approved development plans (showing boat) slips that they haven’t even built yet. … What we have now versus what’s been approved to be built is the density we want to strive for in managing Lake Lanier.”
Lake Lanier had 12.8 million visitors in fiscal 2020
Rainey said he just learned that Lake Lanier saw 12.8 million visitors in fiscal 2020, or between Oct. 1, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020.
“That ranks above probably 98% of even National Park Service areas, so … it does have a big regional impact” he said.
That 2020 number eclipses past years, including 11.8 million visitors in 2019, when it ranked ahead of numerous attractions worldwide, including the Louvre museum and Shanghai Disneyland and wasn’t far behind EPCOT’s 12.2 million.
Rainey had a quick explanation for the 2020 spike: the COVID-19 pandemic driving people outdoors.
“That was the only thing to do — to go out in the fresh air and not in the public,” he said. “The problem with that was we had an increase in trash, an increase in dumping and, for whatever reason, an increase in unruly behavior.”
Mask mandate? Corps hasn’t gotten word yet
Just how a new federal mask mandate will affect Corps parks isn’t known yet.
“We have not received guidance to our office yet,” Rainey said. “We will not change until we receive such guidance.”
Among the executive actions signed Wednesday, Jan. 20, by President Joe Biden was one requiring masks and physical distancing on federal property and by federal employees.
Old Federal likely closed for 2021 season
Old Federal Campground likely will be closed for the 2021 season as it continues to repair damage caused by “multiple weather events,” including heavy rains and Hurricane Zeta on Oct. 24.
“We’re hoping we can get it open sometime mid- to late-summer,” Rainey said.
Otherwise, the Corps has scheduled replacing a restroom at Vanns Tavern Park next month. Van Pugh North has been cleaned up, except for a big sandy area known as a “fishing jetty.”
Suspicious activity can be reported on new website
The Lake Lanier Association is planning to roll out a new website, possibly by mid-February, that will feature one key new feature.
People will have a place to report abandoned docks, which has long been an issue on Lanier, or other suspicious activity.
“If you see something moving across the lake that you don’t think should be there, that’s a good place to report it,” said Jennifer Flowers, the association’s executive director.
Or people can email messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.