Tuesday, March 31

New Challenges to Georgia’s “Draconian” Anchoring Regulations

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Here’s the latest on Georgia’s controversial new anchoring restrictions, which went into effect on January 1.

Ron Stephens, a veteran cruiser and a Georgia State Representative, has filed a bill in the General Assembly to address the worst of the restrictions. His bill would take away the power of the state’s Department of Natural Resources to determine where boats can anchor. And it would change the rule that prohibits anchoring within 1,000 feet of structures, including public and private docks, wharves, bridges, piers and pilings except in areas near marinas. His proposal would change that distance to 150 feet.

As they stand now, the regulations affect anyone cruising through in the state, whether as part of a journey down the ICW, as part of the Great Loop, or simply on a cruise in Georgia’s waters.

Meanwhile, BoatUS called on the governor to fix the regulations. Chris Edmonston, the BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs, says the new rules effectively remove a significant portion of the state’s waters from public use. See the BoatUS statement below:

ATLANTA, Feb. 6, 2020 – In a letter sent recently to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) urges the governor to reconsider regulations recently put in place restricting overnight anchoring within 1,000 feet of any structure, such as public and private docks, wharves, bridges, piers and pilings, except in areas near marinas. The national advocacy, services and safety group also asks recreational boaters to send a message now to the state of Georgia regarding the new prohibitive anchoring law.

With 16,000 BoatUS members in the state, BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Edmonston says in the letter that the new rule effectively removes from public use a significant portion of the state’s waters, representing a departure from the long-held public trust doctrine.

With little notice or engagement with boating stakeholder groups, the Georgia Legislature approved, and the governor signed, House Bill 201 in the 2019 session. This legislation directs the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop rules regarding the anchoring of vessels in estuarine areas of the state. Georgia DNR then proposed a rule that raised significant concerns with the boating community, including BoatUS and the grassroots group Save Georgia’s Anchorages, which was created in response to the draconian law.

Said Edmonston, “This 1,000-foot offset needlessly eliminates anchorages all over the state. It will affect numerous boaters, many of whom transit Georgia waters as part of the annual migration along the Intracoastal Waterway. There is no reasonable safety or waterway-management reason for taking such a significant swath of state waters from the boating public.” Read more:

https://www.boatus.com/news-room/release/boatus-calls-on-georgia-governor-to-fix-draco

 

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