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Jul. 22, 2019
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Don Carter State Park dedication


By Jane Harrison

Don Carter, a hard working man for the people of Georgia often referred to his new namesake park on Lake Lanier as a respite for “working people” and dedicated his efforts to making it so. On Sept. 16, state and local officials joined park staff and visitors in dedicating Don Carter State Park to the Gainesville outdoorsman and conservationist whose labors helped assure working folks have plenty of natural places to unwind.

“It will be fun for children and middle aged workers and families,” said Carter of the 1,316 acre park on North Browning Bridge Road in northern Hall County. Since the park officially opened July 15, more than 60,000 people had visited the first state park on Lake Lanier and only the second Georgia park to open in 15 years.

Carter smiled frequently during the dedication ceremony as Gov. Nathan Deal and others spoke about decades of cooperation between multiple administrations to create the park. Many told of meeting Carter on land and water as he kept watch over park construction with nearly daily visits to check on trees he wanted to stay put, layout of trails, and sites for cabins.

Deal, who lived in north Hall near the park site most of his adult life before becoming governor, praised Carter for his 29 years of service in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The former Gainesville real estate executive helped the state acquire nearly 300,000 acres for parks, wildlife management areas, and recreation.

“I thank him for his insight and foresight all these years,” Deal said. He called the park a “great achievement” that puts a new “cog in the wheel” of the state’s number two economic driver, tourism (second behind agriculture).

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle noted Carter’s wisdom, integrity, and commitment to Georgia’s outdoors. “No one is a greater conservationist and outdoorsman than Don Carter,” he said. “How fitting this new wonderful park not only bears the name of Don Carter but also is representative of all he’s about.”

Don Carter’s son, Doug, took the podium offering words his father asked him to share. The day’s honoree, whose speech is affected by Parkinson’s disease, beamed on the front row, seated beside his wife, Lucille. Doug Carter traced the park’s origin to key roles played by former governors Joe Frank Harris, Zell Miller, and Sonny Perdue and DNR commissioners Leonard Ledbetter, Lonice Barrett and Joe Tanner.

Doug Carter evoked an image his father envisioned at the park: “a family … sitting by the campfire, enjoying the beauty and saying I’m sure glad someone thought about creating something like this.”

Hall County Commissioner Dick Mecum said the park “remade the community landscape” and proclaimed opening day “Don Carter Day” in Hall County.

Local residents Stephen and Donna Hill walked off the wooded trail in time for the dedication ceremony. “This is our first time here. They did a great job,” Donna said. “We’ll probably get the ($50) park pass” to cover many return visits, Stephen added.

The festivities took place under sunny September skies and included lunch, a performance by the Flowery Branch High School drum line, and tunes by local guitarist and song writer Mike Armstrong. His song, “Breeze off the Lake,” written about a pretty place on the northern shore, seemed a fitting tribute to the quiet stretch on the Chattahoochee River channel of Lake Lanier that became a state park.

Current Accommodations & Facilities
• 8 Cottages ($110-$160)
   - Cottage #1 is dog friendly ($45 fee per dog, two dog max)
   - Cottage #3 is ADA
• 44 RV Campsites ($25-$29)
• 12 Primitive “Walk-in” Tent Sites ($15)
• 4 Picnic Shelters ($45)
• 38,000-Acre Lake Lanier
• 10.4 Miles of Shoreline
• Fishing – ramps, fish-cleaning station
• Boating – ramps and docks
• Lake Swimming – large sand beach
• Hiking/Biking – 1.5-mile paved multi-use trail, 2-mile hiking trail
• Playgrounds

Information: www.gastateparks.org, 678-450-7726. Reservations: 800-864-7275

Additionals already in the works for new park

The wide sandy beach and 1.5 mile paved multi-use trail seem to be the most popular features at Don Carter State Park, said Park Manager Will Wagner. He reported more than 60,000 people had visited the park since it opened on July 15. The park’s eight cottages and camp sites were almost completely booked in September, he added.

“The primitive campground is more popular” than park officials anticipated, he said. The 12 walk-in sites, suitable for tent or hammock camping, are located in secluded plots off the multi-use trail near the boat ramps and fish cleaning station.

Plans are in the works to expand the camping areas and create a campground for “car campers” next year, Wagner said. The new campground, with drive up campsites for tent camping, will feature a shaded one-way entry for sites close to the lake, he said. He added that heavy rain last winter and spring caused park planners to postpone construction on the car camping site. But officials wanted to go ahead and open up for the public to enjoy features that were ready by July.

Wagner said horseback riding trails are being laid out. Park staff plans to meet with local equestrian clubs to seek their input.


 

            

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