Insight in Army Corps’ Park Management Plan
Budget concerns could soon lead to new ways of managing several parks at Georgia’s Lake Lanier which are now operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The federal agency is looking at whether it can continue to operate all its recreational areas, including parks, The Times of Gainesville, Ga., reported http://bit.ly/124BIrU.
“The bottom line is if a park’s not worth it, we’re either going to lease it out, close it or … divest ourselves of it,” said Tim Rainey, the agency’s operations project manager at Lake Lanier.
Officials are exploring the idea of partnering with other organizations to manage parks that might otherwise close, Rainey added.
Under one scenario, the corps would develop a “cooperative management” agreement with a nonprofit organization and then lease a park or a number of parks to the organization.
Rainey cited the U.S. Forest Service as an example of a government agency that already has entered into such an agreement. Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association operates a park area at Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest mountain, in Towns and Union counties.
The corps also is interested in talking with Our Lands & Waters Foundation.
If all goes as planned, the partnership could begin next year for Lake Lanier, which has parks scattered around its 692-mile shoreline.
The effort has some urgency to it, Rainey said.
In comments June 5 at the Lake Lanier Association’s annual membership meeting in Forsyth County, he said the corps has developed the National Recreation Adjustment Plan to address the funding issue.
“Corps budgets nationwide aren’t going to be what they used to be,” Rainey said. “We have a large inventory of assets across the country, across the world. Dams, flood control structures, navigation channels – we’re not getting the budgets to maintain them.”
Managers in all corps areas, including water quality and supply, “are doing a portfolio assessment,” Rainey said. “It’s going on all across the country.”
Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association, welcomed the news about the cooperative agreements.
“I think they’re really good at managing the water and shoreline operations,” Cloud said, “but in terms of day-to-day park management, an organization that’s focused on parks and recreation would be a better entity to oversee that.”