Seventeen of the Army Corps of Engineers’ day-use parks and boat ramps on Lake Lanier have been added to campground seasonal closures this year.
And many, such as Little Hall Day Use and beach, Thompson Bridge Park and Old Federal Day Use, are closing Saturday, Sept. 24, according to the Corps.
“There are multiple factors considered in these management decisions to include resources, visitation, proximity to other open areas, operations and maintenance,” said Tim Rainey, operations project manager at Lake Lake, in an email.
Personnel and budget issues would “fall under resources,” he said.
“After considering all factors, it was determined that the additional areas would be closed for the (fall and winter) recreation season.”
Recreation areas on Lake Lanier, which draws 12 million visitors a year, are especially busy between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The Corps says on its Facebook page it has a special events coordinator “who is working with events/clubs/organizations that are already permitted” at sites that are closing.
Commenters on the page are urging, among other things, that the Corps at least keep campgrounds open through the fall. Asked directly about the closures, the Corps said, “All locations are evaluated yearly to match and maximize resources to the amount of public use at each location.”
Reopening dates “are not yet available,” Rainey said. “All I can say at this point is in the spring, around March.”
The Corps often takes off-season months to make improvements at recreational sites.
This year, “there is some work planned,” Rainey said. “However, I do not want to comment on that work until a contract is actually awarded.”
The additional park closings has riled many residents, including Bebe Cunningham, who lives near Thompson Bridge Park off Dunlap Landing Road in Gainesville.
“They’ve never closed this park,” she said. “They always close the bathrooms and lock them — I understand that. They have closed the boat ramps when the water was too low or too high.”
Cunningham said residents, some elderly, like to park their cars at the park to take walks. But with a gate at the entrance closing the park, the nearest place to park would be at Gainesville First United Methodist Church, about a half-mile away.
“It’s a long walk and there’s a steep hill coming back,” she said.