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Sep. 23, 2018
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Advocates and residents give lake’s Master Plan feedback

By Pamela A. Keene
 
Lake Lanier advocates and area residents put in their two-cents’ worth at four public meetings hosted by the Corps of Engineers in February as part of the process of updating the lake’s master plan.
 
“The plan has not bene updated since 1987,” said Tim Rainey, project operations manager of Buford Dam and Lake Lanier. “At this phase we are seeking input from the public about issues that came to the forefront in our meetings with stakeholders late last year. From stakeholder feedback, we have been able to narrow the issues to those that are the most important to our various publics. Now we’re giving people a chance to vote on them and help guide our next steps.” 
 
The new master plan will address changes in regional land-use, population, outdoor recreation trends and Corps management policy. Key topics include revising land classifications, determining new natural and recreational resource management goals, assessing recreation facility needs, plus invasive species management and habitats of threatened and endangered species.
 
The meetings were set up with multiple information stations and signage to explain the process of updating the plan. Big banners outlined the purpose of the meetings and the reasons for the update. Representatives from the Corps were on hand to answer questions as well. 
 
Attendees had opportunities to provide one-on-one comments to officials, to complete a written survey about the issues and to register their priorities through a dot-voting procedure. Large posters on the wall reflected projects and items; people were given sticky-dots to put next to their important issues.
Topics included more boater training and education, better controls for erosion and sedimentation, addressing the proliferation of large boats and wakes, shifting more approvals to the local level and more attention to unsafe boater behavior. 
 
The information gathered will be analyzed and compiled by TetraTech, the contractor handling the development of the master plan. It is the same organization that worked with the Corps on the 2004 Shoreline Management Plan.
 
Rainey said that the next step in the process will take place this summer when the Corps does a carrying capacity study (number of boats, docks, etc.) to assess the water area and how lake usage can be managed going forward. Additionally, representatives will be conducting surveys of visitors.

Later in 2018, the Corps will meet with stakeholders again, then hold a second round of public meetings in late 2018 or early 2019 to review findings and continue the master plan process. 
 
“We expect the new Master Plan to be completed in 2019,” Rainey said. “The process is detailed, gathering science-based information and data to assess issues related to land usage, wildlife management and environmental stewardship,” he said. “That way, we’ll be able to make the best decisions for the next 30 years and what’s going to happen at Lake Lanier. The goal is to protect the lake for future generations and achieve the best balance to consider all aspects for the lake, environmental stewardship and the public.” 
 
For more information about the Master Plan process and the Corps of Engineers, visit www.sam.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Recreation/Lake-Sidney-Lanier/Master-Plan-Update, or call 770 945-9531.

Posted online 2/26/18
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