Great article from BoatUS Foundation.
Great article from BoatUS Foundation.
By Pamela A. Keene
A sunken houseboat on Lake Lanier has gotten the attention of the media in Atlanta. Two months ago, the boat was found just off the shoreline near Sunrise Cove Marina, apparently abandoned.
The Lake Lanier Association reported it to the Corps of Engineers about six weeks ago. According to the association, the ownership of the houseboat is in question because the owner has reportedly died without a will and there has been no one to accept responsibility for it. “We have been trying for more than a month to work with various authorities to determine the ownership of the boat,” said Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association, which has successfully removed several abandoned boats from the lake over the past 18 months. “Right now, the situation is unclear because we understand the original owner died without a will so there is no designated heir. And we just found out that at this point, nothing has been filed in probate court regarding his estate.”
Typically, when the association identifies a vessel or dock as possibly abandoned, Cloud has worked with the Buford Dam Project Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to attempt to locate and/or identify the owner. The process includes coordinating with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, who holds registration papers on vessels, or the Corps, who issues permits for docks. The process includes searches of records and publishing a legal notice with the local media.
“In most cases, the Corps has worked with us on a case-by-case basis,” Cloud said. “Once the boat or dock has been determined to be abandoned, the Corps issues a letter authorizing removal. Then we work with our community partners, such as Marine Specialties and TowBoatUS, to remove the boat from the lake and haul it away.”
Last summer, volunteers spearheaded the removal of a 19-foot runabout from the shores of Lanier Park in Gwinnett. TowBoatUS and Terry’s Auto Towing donated their services in that case, after the association received a letter of authorization from the Corps.
However, this case is not as clear cut. Cloud has spent the past two months contacting various agencies, including the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Natural Resources and the Corps. To date, she has been unsuccessful in getting assistance to move forward to remove the now-sunken houseboat.
WSB-TV/Channel 2, CBSAtlanta and WABE Radio all broadcast news stories about the situation during November, but Cloud continues to be frustrated. “Still no one agency seems to be able to give us a clear picture of the process we need to follow in this case,” she said. “We are very concerned that the boat may begin leaking fuel, oil or battery acid into the lake, but when we’ve spoken with the DNR’s Environmental Protection Division, they say that until there is evidence of pollution, they cannot act. They’ve referred us back to the Corps because the boat is on federal property.”
Last month, Lakeside contacted the Corps’ Lanier office and was referred to the District office in Mobile. According to Federal Code Title 36, Part 327.15, the Corps has the authority to impound abandoned property from federal project lands and waters. However, in many cases budget issues prevent the Corps from acting. “Could the Corps act to impound abandoned personal property?,” said Pat Robbins, public affairs with the Mobile district. “The answer is yes. That would include removing the vessel, finding a place to store it, going through the process of attempting to locate the owner, and if no owner is identified, holding the boat for 90 days before being able to sell it. Any proceeds from the sale would go into the miscellaneous fund of the U.S. Treasury; they would not come back to the Corps’ budget. As long as it’s not a hazard to navigation or a safety issue, the costs for such a project would not be in the best interest of the Corps, especially when the Corps could not recoup the costs.”
In previous cases, the Corps has worked with the association to verify that a boat’s owner cannot be identified and then has written a letter to the LLA allowing them to remove the boat. Each abandoned boat or dock has been evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with the Corps issuing separate letters each time.
“We are working on a blanket memorandum of agreement with the association, but every situation is unique and it may be hard to write an agreement that would cover 99 percent of the cases that come up,” Robbins said. “We have been assisting and working together with the association to find the owners of boats or docks, but as a non-profit, they can solicit donations to help with removal.” Robbins said that the attorneys in Mobile are looking into the situation and contacting Probate Court to determine if the estate has been filed. As of press time, a determination had not been made by the Corps legal staff.
“Right now, the probate issue needs to be settled first,” Robbins said. “Once we know the outcome, then we can proceed. This is a very different situation because there is a death involved. Before we can determine our next steps, the probate issue needs to be resolved.”
Cloud said she is hopeful. “Our main concern is protecting Lake Lanier, and we’ve committed to removing abandoned vessels and docks,” she said. “Yes, this is a difficult situation, but if it had been addressed when we first reported the houseboat six weeks ago, maybe it wouldn’t have sunk and created an even more costly process of removing it. I hope that we can work out a process for more timely responses to abandoned personal property on the lake. It’s in the lake’s best interest to do so.”
Posted online 11/30/15
By Pamela A. Keene
An abandoned houseboat in the Oakwood/Gainesville area of Lake Lanier continues to be at the top of the radar for the Lake Lanier Association. “The issue is getting worse by the week and we’re concerned that it will result in possible contamination of the lake if it’s not addressed soon. Having an abandoned vessel on the shoreline affects water quality and recreational use, and it’s a blight on the lake,” said Joanna Cloud, executive director of the lake-advocacy group.
“We’ve had several meetings with various government entities over the past month and the situation seems to be stalled. We realize that this is a complex issue because the former owner passed away and there’s no chain of ownership beyond him that we can identify, but we are remaining vigilant that something will be resolved sooner rather than later.”
Cloud said that the issue first came to the attention of the association in early fall and the group began work to find the responsible party. It contacted the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Hall County law enforcement, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Buford Project Operations personnel and even the media to push for some sort of next step to get the boat removed.
“When it was first discovered, the houseboat was fully afloat and could have easily been towed to a secure location that would not have the potential for its on-board fluids from gas, batteries and the head to pollute the lake,” she said. “However, with the hard rains we’ve had this fall, the boat is now almost completely sunk and will cost a great deal more to remove it once the issue of ownership is resolved and we – or someone – is given the authority to remove it.”
The association began an abandoned vessels/abandoned dock removal initiative almost two years ago with cooperation from the Corps of Engineers on Lanier. The group has removed several vessels since that time, including a large beached houseboat and a smaller run-about boat, with the help and financial support of area businesses. In each case, the Corps has issued a letter of authorization to the association.
When the Corps was contacted by Lakeside several weeks ago, a spokesperson said that the Corps would be looking at creating an overarching document to cover an arrangement with the association. “Work has not begun on the document yet,” said Pat Robbins, legislative and public affairs chief of the Corps’ Mobile District Office. “We are still trying to determine a way forward that would not depend on the particulars of each case scenario.”
As for the specific houseboat issue, the Corps is maintaining communications. “The Corps continues to communicate with Hall County to understand how the probate process works in this case,” Robbins said. “The Corps has determined that this vessel does not pose a threat to public safety, is not a hazard to navigation, is not or has not damaged the project, and does not impact the accomplishment of project missions.”
Robbins continued. “As we have always stated, we would like to continue to work with the Lake Lanier Association on the removal of abandoned vessels/docks. What has to be understood is that we do not have the appropriated funds to do anything with these vessels that do not meet the criteria (pose a threat to public safety, is a hazard to navigation, has damaged or is damaging the project, and does impact project missions),” he said.
“As I am sure you are aware, our budget for this project has essentially been the same for the past 10 years, yet costs have continued to rise. That is why the LLA is a great partner and their help is so important. Without them, the previous successes would not have occurred. We will do what we can to assist them through the processes.”
Posted online 12/28/15
With the increased popularity of paddle sports, many people are purchasing and enjoying kayaks, canoes and paddleboards on Lake Lanier. Paddle sports are easy and allow just about anyone to enjoy boating on the lake. Sharing lake space with large, powered vessels has risks and there is a correct, safe way to do paddle sports and have fun on Lake Lanier.
The Lake Lanier Association is offering a free, Kayaking 101 class to members who have kayaks and would like some help using kayaks on the lake, staying safe, and having fun. The class will be taught by a ACA Certified Instructor at Mary Alice Park in Cumming. The class will be held on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 from 6:00PM-8:00PM. Advance reservations are required. Depending on the response we get, additional classes may be offered at other locations in the future.
The class will cover the following subjects and answer additional questions from students:
– Why is my kayak completely different from my neighbors and does size matter?
– What additional equipment do I need and will I get wet? (Yes, you are going to get wet, it is a water sport!)
– How do I safely get in and out of the boat?
– What are proper paddle strokes? (Also known as, you’re not doing it right if your arms get really tired.)
– Are there any designated places to paddle on the lake and surrounding areas?
– Is that big boat going to run over me???? Which will include basic rules of boat safety and other ideas for making sure you are seen and have fun on the lake.
The instructor will bring various types and lengths boats to try but you are encouraged to bring your kayak to the class. If you don’t have a kayak but are thinking about getting a kayak and want advice, you are welcome to join. The class will be limited to 25 students and you must be 15 years or older to join. This is just kayaks at this time, if we get many requests for canoes and paddle board we will look into adding classes for those at a later date.
To reserve your spot, click on the below link:
From BoatU.S. Government Affairs
May 18, 2015
Dear Georgia BoatU.S. Member:
If you fill your boat up at roadside gas stations in Georgia beware of E15 or gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol. There is not a single marine engine warrantied to run on this higher ethanol blend fuel and it is prohibited to use E15 in any marine engines.
A May 11th announcement that E15 fuel is now for sale in Georgia requires boaters to be extra vigilant when fueling up. Because E15 fuel is often the cheapest at pumps that offer multiple fuel choices, please take an extra moment to ensure you aren’t filling your boat with any fuel containing more than 10% ethanol. It is not only unsafe for you to use this fuel in your boat, but you are prohibited from using it in marine engines as well as other small engines such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, snowmobiles and line trimmers.
BoatU.S. continues to press Congress to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – the government mandate that forces higher ethanol blended fuels on to the market. Click here to ask your member of Congress to support this effort. For more on the Renewable Fuel Standard go to www.BoatUS.com/gov.
Thanks for being a BoatU.S. member!
BoatU.S. Government Affairs
(703) 461-2878 x8363
Join the LLA at an open event at Aqualand Marina on Saturday, May 16th from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. This exciting event is an endeavor to kick off National Safe Boating Week (May 16th-23rd) with an attempt to set the world record for the most life vests worn by people AND pets in one place!
Vendors are welcome! If you or someone you know is interested in endorsing safe boating practices and marketing their business at the same time, please feel free to sign up for a FREE booth/vendor space. The only requirement is that vendors wear a life vest and be present for the OFFICIAL Record-Setting Photograph at NOON!!! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a vendor space. Vendors will be accepted up to 5:00PM on May 15th.
As the 2015 goal for Rotary International is “Light Up The World”, the Rotary Club of Lanier Forsyth has selected the Lake Lanier Association as one of the charitable organizations to receive a portion of the profits from their Kentucky Derby fund raiser to help fund the solar lighting program on Lake Lanier.
A couple notes: This is an open bar event. A designated driver or taxi cab to and from would be a very good idea. This is a derby party. Ladies, a fancy hat and dress is very appropriate attire. Gentlemen, you don’t have to wear a fancy hat, but this would be considered more of a dress up event than the standard day at the lake. No flip flops or Budweiser t-shirt for this event.
Date – Saturday, May 2, 2015
Time – 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location – Windemere Golf Club House
Dress – Derby Attire
Cost – $75/person
Food/Drink – Heavy appetizers/open bar (includes mint juleps)
Tickets must be purchased in advance. If you would like to attend and support this event, please send an email to email@example.com and we will put you in touch with the group to purchase your ticket.
The Lake Lanier community has been tremendously supportive of the Lake Lanier Association’s project for installing solar lights on the existing hazard markers on Lake Lanier. We’ve had several questions about when we will install more lights beyond the 121 lights we currently have in place south of Browns Bridge so we wanted to provide a quick update.
Like all things Lake Lanier, this project isn’t as simple as it first appears. There is more to it than just putting a light on the hazard marker. We have committed to the Corps of Engineers that we will perform ongoing regular monitoring and maintenance of each light installed for years to come. We are working hard to solidify those processes with the 121 lights already installed, and plan on installing additional lights as soon as the Corps gives us the go-ahead. We are meeting with the Corps regularly to give them updates and to inform them of our processes and we are communicating to the Corps the strong community feedback we have received in support of the lighting program.
In the meantime, any donations that come in supporting expanding the lighting program are being placed in a separate and specific account, earmarked only for new light installations. As soon as we get the go-ahead from the Corps, we will dig into that account to procure more lights and expand the program. If anyone has questions about that accounting, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be glad to discuss that with you.