Carters Lake Anglers Face Possible Boat Ramp Closures

Oct. 16 Gilmer County Commissioner meeting needs fishermen present.

Brad Gill | October 15, 2019

Carters Lake anglers who fish during the fall and winter for trophy-sized stripers and fat spotted bass should strongly consider making an appearance at tomorrow night’s, Oct. 16, 2019, Gilmer County Board of Commissioner’s meeting at 6 p.m. in Ellijay.

A shrinking budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could mean seasonal boat ramp closures on Carters Lake if county commissioners don’t move forward with a plan to work together with the corps.

“The corps did contact us letting us know that their federal budget has been cut,” said Karleen Ferguson, Gilmer County’s Post 2 county commissioner. “We are looking at the possibility of cooperatively managing these recreational areas with the Corps of Engineers. We are continuing discussions of what exactly that means.”

In essence, once local corps folks received the financial news from the higher-ups that budget cuts would mean seasonal closures on one or more of the four recreation areas on Carters Lake—Woodring Branch Recreation Area, Doll Mountain Recreation Area, Ridgeway Recreation Area and Harris Branch Recreation Area—they reached out to the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners for financial assistance in a joint partnership.

“We had a commissioner work session this morning, we had a special called meeting last week about it, and we are trying as a county to work with the corps to keep the recreation sites open for as long as possible without putting our county (in financial trouble),” said Ferguson. “This morning there were so many people in that work session upset and concerned with this that the Corps of Engineers is trying to help us work something out so that they would not have to close Woodring Branch.”

Woodring Branch was set to close on Nov. 1. However, the large turnout in this morning’s meeting spurned the following Facebook post from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Carter Lake Facebook page on the afternoon of Oct. 15: “Carters Lake is soliciting local volunteer help to avoid the seasonal closure of Woodring Branch Boat Ramp. If you live nearby and/or enjoy using this park, we seek your assistance with keeping it open for the winter.

“We need volunteers to blow off roads and parking, collect trash, pick up litter, remove small debris from the boat ramp, clean the toilets at Woodring Primitive Campground, and some trimming/cutting. Volunteers must be willing to commit to work from now until April on a 3-week rotational basis.

“If we receive enough volunteer support we will be able to leave the gates open for the winter. If you are interested please call 706.334.2248 and speak with Park Ranger George McBroom or Allen Earhart.”

At 5 p.m. today, there were 66 comments and 104 shares on that post. It’s still not completely certain whether or not Woodring will remain open after Nov. 1.

Ferguson, who mentioned multiple times that the commissioners had an excellent relationship with the Carters Lake Corps of Engineers folks, is encouraged by the public support, but she says those who enjoy these recreation sites really need to speak out. There are folks in the county who are not willing to support keeping these areas open year-round. They aren’t interested in spending the dollars needed to make that happen. 

“I am very much in support of keeping all the recreation sites with the Corps of Engineers open as long as possible, so I really do hope the other commissioners will be on board. We have not voted on it, but we have agreed to continue discussions,” she said.

Ferguson even received contact information from several of our GON Fishing Reports contributors for Carters Lake as a way to gather information about the good fishing that does take place in the fall and winter on the north Georgia reservoir.

“I am working very hard on trying to figure out things… like we have campsites in the recreation sites, and our county has never been in the camping business before, so I’m looking into reservation systems and all of that,” said Ferguson. “There are other counties doing it. This is going to be a corps issues across the country because they are all having their budgets cut. We don’t want them to close these sites because it’s very difficult for them to reopen them (once budget cuts force a closure).”

If Woodring, or another Carters boat ramp, does end up having to shut down for a period of time, it would be the first time a Carters corps boat ramp was closed due to budget constraints. To date, only some camping and RV sites have been closed seasonally.

Anyone, not just residents of Gilmer County, is welcome to come and speak at the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. That meeting is at the Gilmer County Courthouse, 1 Broad St #202, Ellijay, GA 30540.

For those who fish Carters Lake but live out of town and can’t attend, Ferguson wants to hear from you. Email her at [email protected] and/or email the Gilmer County BOC Chairman Charlie Paris at [email protected].

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