Seven years after the Bear Creek Reservoir was completed, local anglers may finally get to put their boats on the regional reservoir.
The Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority, which manages the 505-acre lake and its water treatment plant, voted last week to authorize its chairman to sign the contract for the construction of a boat ramp and parking facilities at the lake.
The work could be completed this spring.
That won’t happen, however, until the authority’s legal counsel gives his thumbs-up to the $271,000 contract.
Rules and regulations for use of the facility have not been formalized, but the operator of the reservoir, Jordan Jones & Goulding recently submitted a list of “concerns what we have about opening the reservoir up for recreation purposes.”
Those issues include litter, people attempting to gain access to structures in the lake, having to call law enforcement officials in regard to rule violations, the release of contaminants into the water supply, safety of the boating public, people getting stranded and coming to staff for assistance, duck hunters and consumption of alcohol causing threats to plant staff during times when the plant is minimally staffed.
During the planning stages for the reservoir, the Department of Natural Resources decided to manage the lake for a trophy bass fishery, stocking it with (among other varieties) F1 Florida hybrid largemouth bass. Boat access to the lake got caught up in the security-related fears following the 2001 terrorist attacks, however. As those fears began to subside, former Jackson County BOC chair Pat Bell began the push for the authority to keep its commitment to give access to local fishermen. It’s taken three years to get to the point where a construction contract is pending.