Abandoned boats on Lanier
By Pamela A. Keene
Abandoned boats and docks in disrepair violate the 2004 Shoreline Management Plan on Lake Lanier. The US Army Corps of Engineers has announced that owners could be subject to fines, confiscation of the property and/or the revocation of dock permits.
“The Corps makes all attempts to contact the owners of such docks and or the owners of the boats to coordinate correction of any unauthorized actions, including abandoned boats,” said Ernest Noe, chief ranger for Shoreline Management with the Corps. “Not only are these situations unsightly, they are also a safety issue. As stewards of the lake and its shoreline, the Corps is working hard to protect Lake Lanier.”
Once a boat or dock is identified as an issue, the Corps tries to locate and communicate with the owner. The Corps will contact the owner and require him or her to move the property from the lake in the case of a boat, or make it safe and useable, as in the case of a dock. The Corps may first notify the owner verbally, and then send a written notice and/or a warning citation. “This usually allows them 30 days to make the necessary corrections,” Noe said. “However, if the corrections are not completed by the deadline, we take the next step of issuing a citation that will require that the owner appear in Federal Magistrate Court.” Pending the outcome of the court case, the judge may require compliance and assign a deadline to have the issues corrected.
Currently, the Corps is pursuing several cases of houseboats that have been abandoned along the shoreline. “We have requested that the houseboats be removed from the lake or refloated and secured appropriately,” Noe said. “These requests have been verbally and in writing. Additionally, we have sent a citation requiring mandatory appearance in court.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has made site visits to the abandoned boats to ensure that no pollutants are present. No pollutants were found; now the Corps is awaiting a court date in this matter.
“We all have a vested interest in the lake and the facilities around and on the lake,” Noe said. “These economic times are hard for everyone, but if you have the privilege of permitted docks on Lake Lanier, you also have the responsibility to maintain them and keep them safe for you, your friends and family and those who use the public property and water around your permitted facilities.”