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Rising lake gives boaters a boost
Lanier now has 22 ramps open for use
Allen Silver backs his boat off the trailer Friday at the boat ramp at Balus Creek Park on Lake Lanier. The ramp was lengthened over the winter. With the lake level rising after recent rains, there now are 22 ramps open on Lanier. - photo by Tom Reed

It’s been a soggy week, but all the rain has helped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers open many boat ramps on Lake Lanier that had been closed because of the low water level.

Chief Park Ranger Mark Williams said there are now 22 boat ramps open, up from just three usable ramps in October.

The corps has been able to open "a few each week as (Lanier) has been coming up since January," Williams said.

Williams said the corps will open a ramp when there is at least 3 feet of water at the end of the concrete.

"That’s about what it takes to launch most boats," Williams said.

Heavy rain totals during the past few months have made a sizable difference in the water level just in time for warmer weather to start bringing people out to the lake.

Friday, the lake level topped 1,061 feet, 10 feet below full pool of 1,071 feet above sea level.

On Dec. 9, Lake Lanier was at just 1,051 feet, close to its all-time low level of 1,050.79.

Though the lake is moving in the right direction, the 22 open ramps represent only a portion of the 85 on Lanier.

The corps has a long list of permitted events scheduled during the next month, including fishing tournaments and regattas.

Williams said the corps was able to start issuing permits in February for fishing tournaments. But the water level still is too low to allow nighttime events, because of safety hazards that may not be visible in shallow water at night.

Williams said there already is a flurry of activity on the deeper lake.

"It’s picked up quite a bit," Williams said. "We’ve already had a couple of nice weekends where the ramps have been pretty busy."

Campgrounds that were closed because of the low water level also have reopened. Bald Ridge and Old Federal currently are open for use, and Duckett Mill, Bolding Mill and Sawnee will open at the end of April.

Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce President Kit Dunlap said she hopes the higher water level will attract more tourism and events, like this weekend’s John Hunter Regatta, to Lake Lanier.

"I think it’ll help certainly the Olympic venue in attracting more (regattas) but also just visitors to Lake Lanier period if it continues and doesn’t start taking some dips as we get on into warmer weather," Dunlap said. "It’ll not only help that venue but all the marinas and all the boat sales and everything else around Lake Lanier."

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